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Ep.94 – The Wolf of Fagan County - There's a Monster Among Us!

Episode Notes

A sleepy town has always had dark secrets but when young people turn up dead, mutilated and partially eaten a brother and sister decide they have no choice but to find out who's killing the townspeople.

The Wolf of Fagan County by David O'Hanlon

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Produced by Daniel Wilder

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Transcript:

Maybe Whistler was a nice town once. It seemed that way until the summer of ’86. The old folks always whispered about certain places—about the places you don’t go and the boogeymen that dwelled within. Everyone in Fagan County knew a local ghost story. Back then, I loved to hear those stories. Nowadays, not so much. My dad trucked crops from the farms into the neighboring states of Louisiana and Mississippi. I didn’t see much of him. He left before dawn and got home after sunset. The day before my thirteenth birthday, he took a load to Shreveport. I awoke to a stack of used horror comics the next morning with a note that read “You’re old enough for the good ones now, soldier.” I loved the way those pages smelled. After all these years, I still have a couple of them in the suitcases I live out of. I’d read through the entire bundle in a week. I flipped through them and found the one I’d enjoyed the most for a second visit when my mother called from downstairs. “Connie! Come quick,” she shouted. I hated when she called me that. It was bad enough being named Conrad. The effeminate nickname caught on with my friends in second grade… and then with the rest of the student body by the end of recess. Something sounded off in her voice as I trudged down the narrow staircase that descended into the kitchen. Mom was sitting at the table with her elbows pressing into the vinyl top and her hands hiding her face. My sister, Lisa, had her head down, shrouded in her arms. Her body convulsed as she bawled noisily inside. I held my breath all the way to the table. No one spoke to me as I slid the chair away from the edge and eased into it. Mom reached over and put her hand on mine. “Something terrible’s happened,” she whispered. Something terrible had happened a few weeks ago, too. And a few weeks before that. We’d discussed both of those events as a family. No one was crying then. Sure, Mom had been shaken up by the discovery of the first body, but it seemed like nothing to worry about. We all knew Old Man McGarrah from around town. He would pop out like a magician’s rabbit to grump about what a bunch of slack-jawed hippy-spawn all the kids were whenever you least expected it. The police said it was a heart attack that took him and that coyotes took to eating his remains. Grotesque and unseemly as it were, my folks delivered the news to my sister and me with just the facts and reminded us to stay away from the woods. Coyotes rarely attacked people, but Dad said there’s something different about any animal—including man—once they got a taste for blood. The second time we were called to the table, it was clearly more bothersome. Mom wasn’t handling it well, but she remained calm as she told us about the bodies found out along County Road 63. A couple of teens gone to make out got cut up real bad. Chief Hardesty said it was just a freak occurrence—a crime of opportunity—and that the killer was likely long gone. Our parents told us to be home thirty minutes before sundown after that and to never go anywhere alone, just in case. This time was different. “Connie,” she started, tugging at the silver locket dangling from her thin neck. Her voice trembled. “It’s Brenda.” My stomach knotted. Brenda Knowles had been Lisa’s best friend since kindergarten. She’d babysat for me on a few occasions and came to eat dinner with us every Wednesday. She was my first crush too. I sniffled, but held back any other reaction until Mom could finish. Maybe it wasn’t what I thought. Maybe those old Tales from the Crypt comics were poisoning my imagination the way Father Dean said they would at youth service. Maybe she was moving away. That would explain why they were so upset. “Chief Hardesty found her this morning,” Mom continued. Nope. It was exactly what I thought it was. I don’t remember the exact moment that I realized the killings were a month apart, but I do remember Lisa raising her face to stare at Mom and then me in turn. Her lips quivered and then she stood up fast enough to knock the chair to the floor. She slammed her fists onto the table and screamed. That I’ll never forget. That look… and those words. “She was eaten!”


Lisa cried until she passed out that night. I watched the news with Mom to see if the police had anything to say. The station’s newest reporter, Rex Willits, looked like he’d been sick as he raised the microphone close to his chin. His hand shook slightly and his trademark smile was nothing but a thin line of white teeth below his bushy mustache. Rex nodded slowly and started his report when the phone rang in the kitchen and Mom went to answer. “I’m here at the Ridley Funeral Home in Fagan County to report on a grisly, unimaginable crime,” Rex started. He swallowed hard. “The body of fifteen-year-old Brenda Knowles was found just before dawn this morning. Brenda had been babysitting for family friends the prior evening. She started the short walk to her home just before eleven pm.” I turned my attention to Mom’s shouting in the kitchen. “What do you mean ‘two days,’ Paul?” she growled. “It doesn’t take two damn days to get a mechanic.” Dad’s truck broke down. That happened a lot when he was hauling rice to Shreveport. Only then, though. Mom noticed too. She had a pretty good idea of what was going on. “What about the kids?” she wailed. “You know what’s going on here! You’re leaving us alone so you—” Her voice became muffled and I scooted closer to the television to hear what Rex had to say. I heard the phone slam against the receiver several times and Mom stomping up the steps. “I’ve seen the body… my God in Heaven, I’ll never unsee it now,” Rex said when movement caught his attention. He snapped his fingers and pointed his cameraman in the direction of the police chief. Other reporters rushed in around him. Rex elbowed one of them out of his way and reached out with his mic. “Don’t you buzzards have anything better to do?” Chief Hardesty barked. “A child is dead for Christ’s sake.” “How?” Rex asked. “How did she die?” “Violently,” Hardesty answered in his low, gruff drawl. “Is this related to last month’s double homicide?” a woman’s voice asked. “We don’t have conclusive evidence linking the two, this early in the investigation,” Hardesty said. His shoulders sagged. “There are… similarities.” “Were the other victims missing flesh and muscle?” Rex quizzed him. “Were there bite marks on them as well?” Hardesty glared at Rex and then spoke with forced restraint. “At this time, I’m asking all residents of Whistler and the outlying areas to stay indoors at night. The curfew is merely a request, however.” The wail of sirens cut the report short. We wouldn’t find out until the morning that they’d found another body. Crazy Delores lived in a shack on the edge of town. She sold herbal remedies and told fortunes for a dollar. No one knew how long she’d been dead. I climbed into bed, but didn’t dare go to sleep. I opened a comic and thought about Dad. Maybe the rig really broke down, but I didn’t buy it. He was spending time with some woman. In a strange way, that made me feel better. He was more worried about getting laid than he was about the killer on the loose, so maybe it wasn’t a big deal. My door creaked open and Lisa slipped through the gap. I laid the comic down. I didn’t know what to say. ‘Sorry your best friend was brutally murdered and partially eaten’ really didn’t seem like it’d help the situation. Then again, ‘we’re going to find Brenda’s killers’ wasn’t a winner either, but that’s exactly what Lisa said as she leaned on my dresser. I gawked at her and waited what felt like an eternity for her to say something else. “Look, Connie,” she started, then paused and chewed her bottom lip. “Chief Hardesty is a scumbag. He’s going to pin all this on the first person that ain’t Baptist enough for him. Then the murderer is just going to drift away.” I was still too young to know how common that sort of thing was around there. Or what kind of a man Baxter Hardesty really was. I did want to make sure that Brenda’s killer got caught, however. “The killings are about a month a part,” I said, hesitantly, unsure of exactly what I’d discovered. I shrugged. “What if the killer travels and just stops through here every few weeks?” “Or lives here and returns home once a month?” Lisa offered. “Dad’s friend, Ted, is a long-haul driver.” I remembered. Ted tried to convince Dad to work with him all the time. I also remembered Ted coming to my birthday party. I shook my head. “I’m pretty sure he’s out of town now.” I scratched the two recently sprouted hairs on my chin. “What about a delivery driver? Brown’s only gets a few deliveries a month.” Lisa thought it over and nodded. “Okay, we’ll go by and see when they got a delivery.” Thinking the conversation was done, I lifted my comic. “What is that, Connie?” Lisa asked, shakily. “What are you reading?” I closed the issue and looked down at the cover. Bright yellow eyes stared up at me above fangs dripping blood over a broken skull. I looked up to my sister. I knew what she was thinking and I wanted to tell her she was stupid. I wanted to, but I didn’t. The same thought hit me when I looked at those fierce yellow orbs on the black cover. My stomach pitched as I thought about the recent events. My eyes left the stare of the beast and met my sister’s. “It’s a werewolf,” I finally said.


We tried to put the notion back into our imaginations—where werewolves were supposed to stay. Lisa and I rode our bikes to Brown’s General Store just past noon. The curfew officially started at sundown and was no longer a request. Not that it mattered. The streets were already deserted. The baseball card sputtering in the bike spokes signaled the arrival of Brad Breaker. Brad was between Lisa and myself in age, so he hung out with both of us. He was the definition of cool with his acid-washed jeans and his torn, mid-riff, Bruce Springsteen t-shirt. Brad could play guitar… and football. He was also muscular, with aquiline features and sandy blonde hair that made him look like Patrick Swayze in Red Dawn and made Lisa’s brain stop working. “My mom spazzed when I said I was leaving.” Brad looked at the grocery store and turned back to us. “But you said it was an emergency.” “You won’t get in trouble, will you?” Lisa asked. “Nah.” Brad shrugged. “My old man said experience builds character… and that I need to bring back more Folgers.” “Lucky this is our first stop,” I said. “So, why are we here?” Lisa looked to me. Telling him our theory would have been the right thing to do, but she thought he was cute and hoped I, being closer to the childish age to believe such things, would do it for her. I did not. “We want to find Brenda’s killer,” I said and waved at the street. “Everyone’s scared to death. We want to help.” “Why?” Brad asked. “I mean, why do you think you can do it faster than the police?” I removed the wrinkled, somewhat-neatly folded newspaper clippings and handed them to him. “Mister McGarrah died and his corpse was eaten by coyotes. That’s what they say, anyhow. There’s been a killing, at the same time, every month since. Each of those victims was partially eaten as well,” I said, rattling off the facts as quickly as I could. “I think the killer comes to town once a month.” “We think the murderer might be a delivery person or truck driver. So, we want to ask the Browns if they’ve gotten any shipments this week,” Lisa added. “Gnarly.” Brad nodded slowly. “Let’s get to work.” The Browns deliveries turned up bupkis. We checked with every business in town for the same results. That theory was as dead as Brenda, which left us with only one other possibility. A quarter till seven, we stopped by the ice cream shoppe and got sundaes for a quick sugar rush before dinner. I debated sharing the werewolf idea. I’d been trying to dismantle it as we asked around. If it was a werewolf, why’d the killings start only recently? Was anyone acting differently around town? Was anyone new? What made someone a werewolf? So many questions, but none of them ruled out the possibility. “What if… it’s stupid.” Brad said, staring up at the now full moon. “What if it’s a werewolf?” Lisa choked and stared at me wide-eyed over puffed cheeks full of banana split. “I mean, my pops tells me to stay away from Snyder Creek because some kids died back in the ’20s. Everyone says that was a monster. Why couldn’t this be one?” “Darn it!” I snapped my fingers and scooted my chair back with a screech of steel feet against the sidewalk. “Why didn’t I think of that?” “Think of what?” Lisa asked. “I’ve heard that story too,” I answered. “The Snyder Creek Ghoul. They never found out what really happened. Lisa, we need to go to the library and see if we can find any old papers about that.” “Not a chance, Connie.” She pointed at the sherbet skyline. “We need to get home before dark. It’s a long ride.” “The library’s probably already closed, anyway,” Brad offered. “The cops are never going to believe us,” Lisa said. “After tonight, he’ll just be a man,” I reassured her. “We’ll have a month to find out who the werewolf is and prove it.” “Crap!” Brad let his head hang. “Most non-triumphant.” “What?” Lisa and I asked in unison. “I forgot the coffee.” He put a foot on a pedal. “I’m going to hustle to Brown’s. See you later.” He wouldn’t.


Brad’s body wasn’t found for six days. Worst of all, strange as it sounds to say it like a bad thing, he didn’t get eaten. It would be a while before Lisa drew a startling conclusion from the fact. The curfew started an hour earlier afterwards. A citizen’s patrol was organized as well. It wasn’t much more than a dozen yokels with spotlights and guns driving the paved roads, however. They wouldn’t go down the miles of gravel paths where there weren’t any streetlights to keep them safe. They didn’t find the werewolf, either. All they accomplished was shooting a drifter who was busking at the Crispy Chi’ken Truck Stop. Chief Hardesty tried to pin the murders on that poor soul, like Lisa had suspected he would. No one was buying it. By that point, Dad had decided that between the new woman and a monster running roughshod back home, he had all the reason he needed to move to Louisiana. He came while we were asleep to collect his things. We spent every day tracking down information and investigating whatever absurd idea came to us. It was two nights before the next full moon when Lisa told me her troublesome theory. “He didn’t eat Brad because he was warning us,” she said, somberly across the table. The local library had few books on lycanthropy. We’d been reading them every night and comparing them to the two clippings we had from 1926 when the Snyder Creek Ghoul had struck. I put the piece of paper I was using as a bookmark between the pages of the tome and closed it. “What do you mean?” I whispered. “We were asking around about delivery schedules, about people from out of town.” She shook her head. “The wolf isn’t a stranger. We know him and he heard us asking. He wants us to leave him alone.” I checked my watch and reached under the table, wrestling with the zipper of my fanny pack. “Then he shouldn’t have killed our friends,” I growled. I pulled my prize and set it where Lisa could see with a heavy thump. Her eyes widened at the sight of cold, blue steel. “Dad forgot it when he packed,” I told her and lifted the Saint Christopher medallion our aunt had given me for my birthday. “I’ve got this and six silver dollars. We can make two or three bullets with that.” “We don’t know how to make bullets.” “Otto Dickens does,” I pointed out. “We have time to get to his store and back home if we go right now.” “We’re not hunting the damn thing, Connie!” Lisa stood quickly and looked around at the mostly empty library. She lowered her voice. “We should stop this.” “If he killed Brad to scare us off, then he knows who we are. We need the bullets regardless.” Her face twisted with contempt. She knew I was right and scooped her backpack before heading to the exit. We rode our bikes to the fork in the road—left to our house or right to Otto Dickens’ gun shop. Lisa didn’t speak as she leaned and pulled her Schwinn down the righthand street. I smiled softly and followed. Most families in Whistler had lived no further away than the county line for generations. Otto just seemed to appear one day. Despite what you might’ve heard about southern hospitality, it doesn’t apply to strangers. Otto had an uncanny ability with firearms, however. Small towns of rural Arkansas might’ve hated strangers, but they certainly loved their guns. Otto was soon a welcomed member of the community and set up a shop on the far side of town, a couple miles past the old cemetery. The tarnished bell over the door announced our arrival with whatever-the-hell a bell’s version of smoker’s cough is. Otto looked up from the reloading station, his face twisted with curiosity as two teens entered his tiny store. A long scar parted his wild, white beard on the left side of his face. He held up the cartridge he was working on between his thumb and index finger. “Best goddamn rifle round in history,” he said in a voice that sent a shiver racing up my spine. “Forty-five-seventy. I kept a chopped down Winchester in this caliber for clearing tunnels. Can’t hear much of shit anymore as a result, but it could turn old Victor Charlie inside-out in those confined spaces. You ever shot a man?” Lisa and I exchanged bewildered glances. How many kids could say ‘yes’? “Didn’t think so.” Otto deposited the finished cartridge into the cardboard box beside him. “Well, what can I help you with then? Too early for hunting.” “Not what we’re hunting,” I said. Lisa elbowed me in the ribs and cleared her throat. “You can make bullets, right?” “Reckon I can.” Lisa held out her hand and I gave her the items from my fanny pack. Otto left his stool and prowled to her. He bounced the coins and pendant in his palm. His amber eyes darted from one of us to the other before he snorted. “You want silver bullets.” He set the materials on his counter and shook his head. “That’s a shit idea. Silver’s too dense. It won’t take the rifling. Unless you plan on shooting a barn, you won’t be hitting nothing from more than a few feet. Muzzle velocity will nosedive too because the round is heavier than your powder load. They won’t mushroom either. They’ll go clean in and out. Shotshells. That’s what you need if you’re looking to use silver.” Lisa looked at me, completely lost in the gunsmith’s lesson in ballistic science. I didn’t understand it either. “We don’t have a shotgun,” I finally said. “We have a Chief’s Special .38.” “A snub-nose shooting silver bullets?” Otto burst with boisterous laughter. “Hell, you kids might as well slather yourselves in barbeque sauce and yell ‘here, puppy’ if you plan on fighting a werewolf with that set up.” My jaw fell open and I quickly glanced to my sister to find her in the same state. Otto put a hand on each of our shoulders. I hadn’t noticed before, but three of his fingers were missing from the one resting on me. He hunkered slightly to look us in the eyes. “Don’t look so surprised. Ain’t much else you could be doing with silver bullets.” He went behind the counter and pulled a sawed-off shotgun from beneath the register. My eyes drifted to the black tape wrapped around the walnut stock and the rough scratches where a serial number had been. “Reckon you can borrow this one. Going to take about an hour on the shells.” “You believe us?” I asked. “Lots of things in this world we pretend not to believe in no more. Pretend weren’t real in the first place.” He absently rubbed the scar on his cheek with the nubs of his fingers. “We pretend… until they start eating us.”


The sun was just an orange razor’s slash by the time we got home. We dropped our bikes in the yard and ran inside. The shotgun mostly fit inside Lisa’s backpack, so we could sneak it past Mom. Not that it mattered. All the lights were off and she wasn’t waiting for us like normal. I headed for the living room while she stashed the gun and changed clothes. “How are you, soldier?” a gruff, ragged voice asked from a darkened corner. The hairs prickled on the back of my neck at my dad’s pet name for me. He stepped out of the shadows. He looked different, and naked, as he gracefully scaled the back of the couch and perched on the cushion. The weak glow of the mail-order touch lamps shimmered on the sweat-slick hairs growing longer from his tight flesh. His elongated nails scratched at the thick, orange fabric of the sofa. “You can catch a lot from whores,” he said. He spoke slowly, like each word was new to him. Long strands of drool slung from his mouth as he flexed his jaw with a series of loud, painful pops. “Your ma knew. Tried to fix it with Crazy Delores.” His obsidian eyes focused on the coffee table. I saw Mom’s locket sitting there next to the half-full ashtray, still wet with blood. “It’s not just the bite,” he grumbled, his words becoming deeper and more inhuman. “It’s like the clap. I brought it home. Made her. McGarrah was… accident.” He shifted on the cushions. Things moved inside his body—bones and muscles realigning—and he whined like a dog in a sticker bush. He sprang over the table and landed inches from me. His nose twitched as he took in my scent. His lips didn’t touch anymore as the fangs locked together. Stiff fur covered his once chubby cheeks. “She couldn’t… control.” He growled. His teeth snapped in front of me. “I can. Join… pack… become. Come with me… soldier.” I quivered with fear. With hurt. With anger. I never suspected my parents. I needed answers. Lisa screamed and broke me out of his hypnotic gaze. His hand clamped over my mouth. He watched the stairs, waiting for Lisa to come down. I eased my hand to the fanny pack, wiggling my fingers to stretch the zipper without the noise. “Connie?” Lisa called. Dad sniffed the air. I watched his pointed ear twitch. He whipped his head back around to me and his eyes widened as the barrel pressed against his chest. The .38 was louder than I remembered. The bullets weren’t silver, but they did the trick. He fell backwards and crashed through the table. I fired the rest of them into his face while he was down. He screamed in pain behind me while I darted for the stairs. I slammed into Lisa who was clutching the shotgun. “I think there’s two of them!” she shouted. I wasn’t listening. I jerked the weapon from her hands and went to finish Dad off. Only, he wasn’t there. Two bloody bullets rolled in the debris of the coffee table. A shadow fell over me from the kitchen. I threw myself to the floor, narrowly dodging the swipe of my father’s claws. I rolled onto my back and he looked more monstrous than before. His face had contorted into a snout. The front window shattered, startling me. My finger tensed on the trigger and the silver buckshot tore through Dad’s thigh, obliterating the wood paneling beyond. I clamored up the stairs and Lisa pulled me to my feet by my collar. We ran into our parent’s room and slammed the door behind us. I screamed when I saw the body on the bed. It was Mom… but just barely. Her features were still deformed. Her body, still covered in the bristly fur of her new form. And her head hung from the gnawed throat by a few remaining strands of muscle. Everything Dad tried to tell me suddenly made sense. His new girlfriend turned him and he turned Mom. That’s how the werewolf knew we were snooping. Mom was doing the killing while Dad joined his new pack in Louisiana. I vomited at the foot of the bed. “What’s happening?” Lisa asked. Downstairs sounded like a dogfight. Snarls, yips of pain, furious barks, things breaking. I threw the door open and whipped around the corner with the shotgun raised and ready. Dad pounced onto the stairs. Blood gushed from wounds and he bared his fangs as he crawled up the steps toward me. I pulled the trigger. Nothing happened. I remembered duck hunting with him and then my own folly. I hadn’t chambered another round. He drew closer as I racked the slide, but it was too late. His claws opened deep furrows in my thigh and I toppled backwards. Then the other wolf came into view. It grabbed my father’s legs and pulled him down the steps before mounting his back. The beast howled victoriously and glared at me with amber eyes set in white fur. The monster clamped its fully formed jaws down on the back of Dad’s neck. I heard the wet snap of the spine as it shook its head from side to side. I stared at the long scar parting its fur, at the claws digging into its prey… and the missing fingers beside them. I pressed the barrel of the shotgun to the back of my father’s skull and fired. The white wolf slunk away. Brain matter and pieces of skull clung to its fur. I pumped the shotgun again. And then the beast was gone.


By morning, the bodies had fully reverted to their human forms. Chief Hardesty didn’t question anything. Dad was the killer and Mom was just a victim. We let him run with that story. Before our aunt could come and pick us up, we needed to take care of one more thing. We rode our bikes to Otto Dickens’ shop and found him assembling a pistol at his counter. “Reckon the police seized that gun,” he said, simply. “Yeah,” I answered. “Sorry, I guess.” I set my mother’s locket on the counter and looked at the gunsmith questioningly. “Wolfsbane.” He licked his lips. “It helps when you’re young, when the moon is still your master.” He finished the pistol he was working on and slipped it into a messenger bag. He pushed the kit over to me. “I haven’t killed anyone in a long time, in case you’re wondering,” he told us. “What do we do now?” Lisa asked. “Different breeds of wolf, the world over. My kind don’t have a pack here.” He pointed at the gauze around my leg. “Your old man’s kind does. You took from them. They’ll take from you. A wolf never forgets. You’re just rabbits now and there’s nothing left to do for a scared bunny, but to run.” We took the bag Otto prepared for us and left his shop. We didn’t go back to the house and wait for our aunt, though. We rode our bikes to the outskirts of Fagan County and hitched a ride at the Crispy Chi’ken. They caught up with us in St Louis three years later. I buried Lisa behind a city park. I rest in one place until I hear the bays of the pack on those bright, moonlit nights and then I disappear onto another stretch of asphalt. Always moving. Always staying ahead of the wolves. Always ready to remind them, that rabbits have teeth too. The End

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Ep.93 – The Siren's Song - Something Under the Water WANTS YOU DEAD!

Episode Notes

Something under that water sings beautifully... and hides a DEADLY secret, waiting to bring you under!

Siren's Song by Joe Solmo

Buy the new "Babysitter Massacre" book! https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08P4ZF9LG/

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Contact Us/Submit a Story twitter.com/WeeklySpooky facebook.com/WeeklySpooky WeeklySpooky@gmail.com

Music by Ray Mattis http://raymattispresents.bandcamp.com

Produced by Daniel Wilder

This episode sponsored by HenFlix.com

For everything else visit WeeklySpooky.com

Transcript:

<pre>Jacob watched as his uncle headed towards the rustic one room cabin that sat on the riverbank. He wondered how he was supposed enjoy himself up here with his uncle. It had only been three days since his mother’s funeral. A car accident took her from him, she was on her way to pick him up from a friend’s house, after a night of trying out Dungeons &amp; Dragons. The night was fun, he was all smiles until the phone rang at Keith’s house and Keith’s mom had to drive him home. She wouldn’t explain why, but Jacob could tell by the look on her face something was wrong. They never caught the person who crossed the double yellow lines and hit his mother head-on. They fled the stolen car and the scene on foot before the police arrived and found her there. Jacob overheard the officer say that she was still alive when they arrived, but passed shortly after. They found several beer cans in the other car, and thought it might have been a drunk or teens out for a joy ride, but no one knew for sure. There was no justice, just loss. It really wasn’t fair. When Uncle Greg showed up to help them with arrangements and daily household stuff, Jacob was glad. His father seemed lost, he’d just stare out the window at the driveway, like he expected his wife to pull in any minute. At times, Jacob wanted to join him, wanted to believe that it was all a mistake and his mother would be home in time for dinner and complain has his father overcooked the roast. The night after the funeral his father suggested he go to bed early, and to be honest, Jacob didn’t feel like staying up. As he finished brushing his teeth, he could hear his uncle and father talking on the back deck. The window was open on the warm August night. He dragged the stool over to the window he used to use to brush his teeth so he could peek out. His father was still wearing his white shirt and tie, the latter hanging loosely to the side as his father raised a glass to his lips. He turned towards his Glen. “You know why I don’t want to go back up there,” Jacob’s father said after swallowing. “It would do the both of you good to get away. Come up to the river camp. It will be like old times, Jason,” Glen replied. “The boy should be up there too, get away from this place.” “Too many memories. Memories of her. You know not all the memories up there are good ones,” Jason said. They sat in silence for a minute and Jacob got bored. He climbed down and put his wooden stool away. He thought it was odd that his father told his uncle that he met mom at the cabin. When he asked for a school project, his parents had told him they met at a school dance. Jacob snapped out of his memory and looked at the river as it flowed by. So, this was where his father and mother met. He looked up and down the shore and wondered which of the houses had belonged to his mother’s family. He had never met anyone from his mother’s side. She told him they had all died when she was young. Before he knew it, he was standing at the water’s edge. Something had drawn him there. There was something comforting about the way the water lazily passed by the large boulder near the weathered dock. He walked out onto the aged wooden planks until he reached the edge and looked down at the reflection of the sunset and mountains in the river. He stared intensely into the water, there was something there, just under the surface, but he couldn’t make it out. Pastels reminiscent of Easter covered the swirling water, keeping its underwater secrets from him. He slapped a mosquito as it tried to make a meal of him. A look out on the water showed all kinds of insects swimming just above the surface of the water, and he regretted not bringing a long sleeve shirt to cover up. Jacob had never been fishing before, he wondered if he would like it. Maybe if it was a video game. Then he wouldn’t have to worry about the bugs. “There you are Jake,” came Uncle Greg’s voice from behind him. “Let’s get all the bags inside. It’s really cooling down; the browns should be out soon.” Jacob didn’t know what a brown was. He assumed it was some kind of fish, or maybe an insect since there were so many of those out. He grabbed his duffel bag from the back of the truck and with a grunt lifted it over the side of the truck. It took both hands to carry it to the house with a week’s worth of clothes inside it. “What’s a brown?” he asked his uncle as he caught up to him, out of breath. “Trout, boy. Brown trout. It’s on the menu for tonight. They love to eat those bugs there and will be right up near the surface. Easy pickin’s,” Uncle Greg replied. “Eww, they eat bugs?” Jacob asked. “Sure do, it’s a source of protein for them.” “Do they taste like bugs when you eat them?” asked Jacob. “Not at all, they’re delicious,” his uncle replied with a laugh and put his bag down on the old worn couch. “You take the bed; I will take the couch.” Jacob looked at the bed by the window. It had a nice view of the river; he carried his bag over to the bed and plopped in on there without taking his eyes off the river. A boat was heading upriver, the steady drone of its motor almost trancelike. He watched it until it was out of site. “How come you don’t have a motorboat like that, Uncle Glen?” Jacob asked. “Well honestly, I can’t afford one. I am not very good with money,” Glen said laughing as he set down the cooler by the old sink. Jacob had not even seen his uncle to go back out to the truck to get the cooler. “Dad says you whizz it away, but I don’t know what that means,” Jacob said. “Yeah well, when we were growing up, your father had it easier that I did making friends. I found my friend in a bottle. Y’understand?” Uncle Glen asked gathering up the fishing gear and heading towards the door. “Yeah,” Jacob said, but had no idea what his uncle was talking about. The canoe was so shaky it felt like if Jacob sneezed he would send the thing over and he’d have to swim back to the cabin. So he sat very still, white-knuckle gripping the sides of the aluminum canoe in order to prevent his imaginary catastrophe. His uncle paddled them upriver a bit to a spot he said he knew where there was a deep pool that the browns liked to hang out in. They would drift with the current from above it so the fish wouldn’t hear the splashing of the oars and get spooked. Even though he was terrified of the canoe tipping, Jacob wasn’t afraid of the river itself. Once again, he felt a calmness when he looked out on it. There was something familiar about the river, something comforting. It took a few minutes for him to get up the nerve to let go of one side of the canoe and reach down to the water, letting his fingers drag in the cool water. “Well, here we are,” his uncle said and slid the canoe just upstream of a fallen log to keep the watercraft in place. “You ready to catch some fish?” Jacob watched his uncle take a rod out from a tube and fit the ends together until the thing was almost as long as the canoe. He had seen rods in fishing shows before, but this one was super long and the line was brightly colored. He watched as is uncle tied a tiny little poofy thing to the end. “Here take this,” Glen said, thrusting the rod towards his nephew. Jacob reached out slowly to take the rod from his uncle, daring to rise a little from his safely seated position. As he sat back down, he felt something bump the canoe. “What was that?” he asked nervously, looking around wide-eyed. “We just brushed up against a log, nothing to worry about,” his uncle said and started to fit together another rod. “All I have are these fly-fishing rods, it’s a little harder to cast, but the browns love the flies on the end,” his uncle explained and stood up in the canoe making it shake more than Jacob would have liked. Uncle Glen gave a false cast and sent the line shooting out the end upstream. Jacob watched the graceful cast. It was easy to see the bright orange line make its way back downriver to them. His uncle cast this way three more times, explaining to Jacob how it worked, but Jacob wasn’t about to stand up in the boat now. He felt another bump on the canoe. This time he swore he felt something tapping on the bottom of the boat. “What is that?” Jacob asked, terrified. “There are all kinds of noises, kid. It could be anything, a branch, a turtle. Nothing to worry about either way,” Uncle Glen explained and sat back down in the canoe. He reached into the bag he brought with them and pulled out a beer. “If you were another year older, I would let you have one, but eleven is just too young to drink beer.” “That’s ok. I don’t want a drink,” Jacob said. “Good boy, don’t want to end up like me,” His uncle answered putting down the beer to grab his paddle. “Let’s move a little farther downstream and give it another go.” Jacob nodded and looked overboard as his uncle maneuvered them out into the current to take them downstream. Jacob. Jacob can you hear me. His young eyes widened as he heard the familiar voice. It couldn’t be. How could he hear his mother? She was dead! He looked at his uncle to see if he heard it too, but he just guided the canoe down river. Jacob. It’s your mother. Can you hear me, child? Jacob tried to swallow, but his throat went dry. The hairs on his neck stood up. This can’t be happening. “Uncle Glen, I don’t feel so good. Can we just go back to the cabin?” Jacob asked in a weak voice. “Huh? Oh, I guess we could. Didn’t know you get seasick. Our family have been sailors for generations. Must be from your mother’s side. I never met her folks. Probably grew up landlocked,” his uncle said. “Let’s break down these rods first.” Another thump on the boat, this one louder. Jacob wondered if he was losing his mind. Between the thumps and hearing his mother’s voice, he just wanted to go home. Get away from the crazy place. He looked out on the water, and no longer felt a calming sensation. He was terrified. Jacob. I need your help. You will help your mother, won’t you? He closed his eyes tight, wishing it all away. The voice, the bumps, the trip, the accident. Everything. Why was this happening to him? Why was his mother taken from him? Was that really her voice he heard? Was it all in his head? They reached the dock without further incident. They entered the cabin without another word. Jacob went over to the bed and lay on it, facing the river. He didn’t want to turn his back on it. “You want something to eat?” his uncle asked from the small table where he was sitting. “No thanks, I am not very hungry,” Jacob replied, propping his head up on his pillow to better see out the window. He wondered why he didn’t see more boats out on the river, sure it was getting dark now, but still there wasn’t much traffic out there. “Ok, maybe you will feel like eating in the morning. I’ll make pancakes. If you need anything, just let me know, I will be having a few drinks before I turn in, I think,” his uncle replied. Jacob closed his eyes for a second, then looked back towards the water. He closed them again for longer this time, trying to fall asleep and put an end to this day. One less day he had to stay here and he could go home. He wasn’t sure how long he’d slept, but when he woke it was dark out. He could hear his uncle snoring from the other side of the cabin. He sat up and looked out the window, the full moon illuminating the scene before him. He could make out the dock on the shore of the river, a ribbon of darkness flowing in the moonlight. Jacob. Jacob are you there? The voice again. How? Jacob wrapped the blanket around him. Wait. What was that? Jacob. Don’t be afraid. The hair on the back of his neck stood up again as his brain processed what his eyes were seeing. A woman was coming out of the lake, wrapped in a white dress, flowing behind her. It couldn’t be. Could it? “Mom?” Yes, my son. It’s me. Come outside. I will explain everything. Jacob looked at his uncle, passed out sitting at the table now covered with empty cans. He would sleep through the night. He slipped out of bed, keeping the blanket wrapped around him as he made it to the door. He opened the wooden door just enough so that he could slip out, sure to close it quietly behind him. He made his way through the damp grass, keeping his eyes locked on his mother on the river’s edge. He noticed a swirl of fog obscuring her legs and feet as he approached. She reached out to him, but he stopped twenty feet shy. He looked at her pale face, surrounded by her fire red hair. It didn’t look wet, even though she seemingly emerged from the river. I guess anything is possible in a dream, he thought. Jacob. Why do you hesitate. Come here my son. Her voice sang in his ears, but her lips never moved. Was this a dream? “Mom? Is it really you?” he asked. It’s me, Jake. Did you hear me earlier on the river? “Yes. Was that you thumping on the boat?” he asked her, pulling the blanket tighter around him. The night was colder than he first realized. Yes, I was trying to get your attention, son. I miss you and your father so much. I didn’t expect to be back here so soon. “Why are you here at the river? Is the river… ?” Jacob asked. No, Jake. This is where I came from. I had to return when I was done with my life with you. It is complicated. “Are you a ghost?” Her musical laughter filled his ears. My child. That is a good question. I am not sure to be honest. I have been keeping a secret from you for years. I think it is time to tell you of your heritage, my son. But first, I need to ask you a favor… Jacob woke from his uncle shaking him. “Are you okay Jacob, it’s almost nine,” his uncle asked. “Five more minutes,” Jacob grumbled rolling back over. “Okay Jake, I will get started on breakfast then,” his uncle said. “Pancakes good?” The grunt his uncle heard from the pile of blankets he took as an affirmative. Soon the smell of bacon and maple syrup assaulted Jacob’s nose. He rose from the blankets and looked out at the river, remembering what his mother told him last night. It had to have been a dream, he thought. It had seemed so real though. Jacob had to admit he was really hungry, and his mouth watered when he saw breakfast on the table. He ate so many pancakes he thought he was going to burst. He wondered if there was a more perfect food. If there was, he hadn’t had it, that was for sure. “Can we go fishing again tonight?” Jacob asked. “Sure. Didn’t think you would want to after getting seasick last night. We can go right now if you want, just let me finish the dishes,” Uncle Glen said. “No, let’s wait until tonight, it will be cooler. Teach me to cast like you did last night in the yard though. It looked fun, like a whip,” Jacob said throwing his napkin in the trash. “It’s not really like a whip at all, but I will show you. Can you check on our ice situation? Do I need to run into town?” his uncle asked. Jacob opened up the cooler. “Um, it looks like we might need some for later. What happened to all the beer that was in there?” His uncle looked in the cooler. “I guess I had a few more than I thought. A trip into town it is then. Do you want to go with me or hang out here?” “I’ll stay here, Uncle Glen,” Jacob replied. “I want to draw a little,” he said and went for his duffel bag. Inside was a sketchbook and pencils. He pulled them out and brought them to the table. “Suit yourself. I won’t be gone long,” Uncle Glen said and headed out the door. Jacob sighed as his uncle left. Could it be true? His uncle returned hours later, it was mid afternoon and he smelled of alcohol… bad. Jacob couldn’t get within ten feet of him, he reeked. “Come on boy, time to teach you to cast like a master,” his uncle said and grabbed the tubes that contained the rods they used last night. Jacob. A chill went down his spine as he stood in the yard. Was his mother really calling to him? Jacob I can’t get any closer. Are we set for tonight? Jacob nodded towards the river. He didn’t know if she could hear him or not, but the nod seemed to answer her question. Thank you, my son. See you at sunset. “You always just stare off into space, boy?” his uncle asked scratching his head. “You weren’t watching, now pay attention…” An hour later Uncle Glen was passed out on the porch and Jacob had the rest of the night to himself. He would wake uncle when it was time to fish. Jacob managed to get his uncle up just before sunset, and get him into the canoe. He even helped paddle this time. They made their way up river even faster than the night before and passed the fallen log even earlier. “Let’s try a little farther upriver,” Jacob said. “Is that okay, Uncle Glen?” “Sure boy, keep paddling, I’ll get the rods ready. Jacob continued to paddle up river, pushing against the current. The sun was beginning to drop behind the mountains, similar to last night when they were out here. “Is this a good spot?” Jacob asked. “Good as any to start,” His uncle replied and threw the little anchor overboard to keep them in the spot long enough to fish it. He handed Jacob a rod and grabbed one for himself. “Go ahead and give it a cast.” Jacob hesitated. “You go first, I want to watch you cast one more time.” He felt something against the bottom of the boat. Was that a thump? Glen cast out towards the shore where there was a bend in the river, the insects swarming just above the surface. He felt something and tried to set the hook, but lost it. He stood in the canoe making it wobble until he got himself balanced. Are you ready now Jacob? “I need a little more distance,” Uncle Glen said and cast again, this time his fly landed inches from the bank. “That’s the sweet spot, right there,” he said and began to strip in the line. Now, Jacob. Just like we talked about. Jacob picked up the tube that the rods came in, it was made of fiberglass, not very heavy, but it would have to do. He slid forward in the canoe slowly until he was near his uncle. “Uncle Glen?” “What is it boy? Don’t you know you have to be quiet when fishing?” “This is from mom,” Jacob said and swung the tube into his uncle’s gut, catching him unaware. His uncle pitched forward and the canoe began to list towards shore. “What the… did you do that for?” his uncle growled clutching his belly. Jacob answered him with another swing, this one right behind the knees, causing his uncle’s legs to buckle, he fell back and went overboard. The canoe stayed upright, just like his mother promised him it would, like it was held in place. “Help me out of the damn water!” his uncle called out grabbing the side of the canoe and shaking it. Pale arms reached up from behind Glen and snaked around him. Good job, my son. He must pay for what he did to me. He was jealous of your father and I, and when I turned him down he decided if he couldn’t have me no one would. First, he kidnapped me from the river onto dry land with my newborn fry, you. Then your father and Glen fought over me, like some kind of prize. When I died my soul went back to the river where my people live. Where your people live, Jacob. Jacob listened to the explanation from his mother as her face came up next to his uncles. A large flipper slapped the water as she dragged his uncle father from the canoe. We have avenged my death, my son. Now we must avenge our kidnapping from our people. Paddle back and call your father up here. Then we can be together again. Then I can teach you about your heritage. I can show you how to change your form, to live in the water, or on land. Jacob paddled away as he heard his uncle splashing behind him, crying out for help. He wouldn’t look back, not after what his uncle and father had done to his mother. No wonder she was so sad all the time, he thought. He put the paddle across his lap and let the current take him back to the cabin now that the waters behind him have gone silent. Soon he would be reunited with his people, under the river, just one more wrong to right… </pre>

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Ep.92 – Hunter Black - Writing Becomes a BLOODY REALITY!

Episode Notes

A brand new typewriter gives an author a new creative lease on life, especially as his creations start to become a reality. A terrible violent, blood soaked reality!

Hunter Black by Rob Fields

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Transcript:

Simon Griffin sat in his bedroom and typed away. When he finished his current page, he pulled it out of the typewriter and loaded a new sheet. When he resumed typing, he could feel a presence near him. “Hi, Mom,” he said. Even through his typing, he could see his mom taking his plate and his empty glass. She replaced the empty glass with a full one. “Still hard at work, I see.” Simon stopped typing. “Mom, I’m this close to being done with my latest novel. Once I’m finished, I’ll be ready to send it out. Just a few more chapters to go.” She smiled a little. “I’m surprised that you’re still using that beat-up, old typewriter. It belonged to your grandfather, you know.” She paused. “Really, Simon, you’d save a lot of time if you would just use the word processor that came with your computer.” Simon smiled a little himself. “Mom, I know you mean well. But Grandpa did all of his writing using this very typewriter right here. He never caved in to modern technology. He used to say there were some things you just can’t replace, no matter how much better it is. Take the compact disc. Remember how the music industry tried to replace vinyl records with it? It never did because people knew! You just can’t beat the sound quality that comes on records. That’s how it is with a typewriter. I just want to be the same writer that Grandpa was, that’s all.” “And you are, honey,” she complimented. “You’ve already published nine Hunter Black books. To be honest, I’m surprised that Sunset Press over in Erie City actually takes your paper submissions.” “Well, that’s where Grandpa got his stories published,” Simon pointed out. “I decided to go with them since they treated him really good. And now, they’re treating me really good.” “They sure are.” His mom reached out and patted his shoulder. “Okay, I won’t bother you anymore about using a word processor. I’ll let you get back to work.” “Thanks, Mom. I’ll be done soon.” His mom left his room. Then he resumed typing. His latest novel was actually the next in a science fiction series which dealt with a villainous character from the year 2250 in the form of Hunter Black, a hitman for hire. Black was both the central character and the antagonist at the same time. Whenever the criminal underworld had a job that required his skills, they would pay his fee. From there, he would get the job done. Aside from a recurring female character named Felicity Scorne, no one crossed him – and lived.

The next morning, Simon walked into Strickfield High School. As always, he wore dark trousers, a pressed shirt, a vest, a red bowtie, loafers, and glasses. This was the very same fashion that his grandfather wore back in his day. Whether it was just the love and dedication that he felt towards his late grandfather or his stubbornness, wearing these cloths may have been all right during his grandfather’s day. However, in these current times . . . As Simon passed by a group of jocks and their girlfriends, he knew that it was going to be the same thing that happened every morning. Dana Shackleton pointed right at him. “Hey, look who’s back! It’s Orville Redenbacher!” Then she called out to Simon, “Hey, Orville, shouldn’t you be at the movie theater?” Her boyfriend, Nathan Coaver, sneered at him. “Yeah, fuckstick! This ain’t 1955. Get with the times.” As always, Simon tried to ignore them. While only a select few knew that he was a published writer and was financially independent, the rest of the school population didn’t. Not when he used a pen name. As far as the rest of his classmates were concerned, Simon Griffin was nothing but a nerdy loser. Suddenly, Simon was brought out of his thoughts when he felt himself being lifted off his feet by two of the jocks. The next thing he knew, he was being turned and taken into a nearby restroom. Simon squirmed, but he only weighed around a hundred-and-ten pounds – if that! Then he heard the click of the restroom door’s lock and knew that he was in trouble. “This one looks good,” Dana told the jocks. Simon struggled harder but to no avail. He couldn’t do anything as he was lowered to his knees, only to have his head shoved into the cold water of the toilet. He was held under for a bit before the flushing came. The only thing he could hear over all else was Dana Shackleton and the other girls laughing scornfully at him.

After school, Simon was in his room. His best friend and next-door neighbor, Connie Graves, was there with him. “Every day, Connie,” Simon complained. “Every day they always have to give me a hard time.” He told her about the restroom incident earlier that morning. Connie sighed apologetically. “I’m really sorry I couldn’t go to school with you today. I had to be there real early to help put the school paper together.” Whenever Connie and Simon went to school together, the bullies never laid a hand on Simon. They still taunted him, however. Simon pointed at her. “And that’s another thing, those meatheads are always giving me a hard time. They say I need you to fight my battles for me.” He looked down now. “Not that I don’t appreciate you helping me. I do. I really do.” He sighed. “Listen, I don’t blame you if you don’t want to be my friend anymore.” Connie put her hand on his chin and raised his head up. “Hey! Don’t you ever say that again. We’ve been best friends since we were kids. We swore we would always be friends. We’ve always kept that promise. Now enough of that shit talk.” The two of them shared a hug. Then Simon wanted to be alone, mostly so he could finish his novel. He had tried to finish it the night before but hit a stumbling block with the ending. Connie said goodbye and left. Now it was time for Simon to write the final chapters in which Hunter Black would face Detective Richard Hartman, who had come up against Black once before and barely survived with his life. This would be the final conflict. Simon loaded the paper into the typewriter and began to type away. And then . . . disaster struck! “What?! No! No way!” Simon cried. Much to Simon’s disbelief, the typewriter’s element had fallen off. He picked it up and saw that there was no way that he would just be able to get a new element and repair it. No, the old typewriter had finally had it. Now he had three choices: One, find a place that would repair typewriters. Two, buy a new typewriter altogether. Three, finally break down and start using the word processor on his computer. His deadline was coming up, and he needed to finish his novel. However, he had too much pride to resort to modern technology. He would never use a modern word processor if he had anything to say about it. He was an old-school writer, just like his grandfather. He decided to go out and see if he could pick up a new typewriter. He had a few ideas of where he might find one in downtown Strickfield. After calling Connie, the two of them got on their bicycles and began riding. Simon and Connie checked out a few antique shops and even the local department store, but there were no typewriters available. They even checked out their local thrift store, but to no avail. They had nearly exhausted all of Simon’s possibilities in Strickfield. He really didn’t want to use a word processor, nor did he want an electric typewriter. He needed an old-school one. There was just something about the feel of it. Then Connie suggested trying Strickfield Plaza as a last resort. It would be a couple of miles out of the way, but it was worth a try. Simon and Connie pulled into the parking lot of Strickfield Plaza, which was located on the south end of the village. As they chained up their bikes, Simon looked at the nearly-empty parking lot and took an exasperated breath. He remembered that his grandfather had told him how this giant plaza, and the mall north of the village, would never succeed in Strickfield. Grandpa was proven right, of course. Both the plaza and the mall were full of life and had many of the big-name stores for at least the first year. Then, one by one, the stores were leaving. People just weren’t shopping at either place. No, people were too attached to shopping in downtown Strickfield and the many vintage local businesses there. Now, there were only a few select big-name anchor stores left in both places, along with some mom-and-pop stores. Still, what did Simon have to lose? The two of them knew that Staples was still open. After having no luck there, they got back on their bikes. They were almost to the road when Connie saw the one lone store further down the strip, which was called Tinker’s. “Let’s check down there, Simon.” They rode to the store, parked their bikes, and went in. Tinker’s was full of seemingly old odds and ends. Simon looked around to see if – YES!! There it was! He quickly moved to the old typewriter sitting there on the shelf. It looked just as ancient as his grandfather’s old typewriter. “I can’t believe they actually have one of these old typewriters here,” Connie said. “This old typewriter is rather a collector’s item,” they heard a voice from behind them say. They turned around to see a man in his late forties standing near them. “Is this your store?” Connie asked him. “That’s me: Eisley Tinker, owner and sole proprietor,” he replied. “How much?” Simon immediately asked Tinker. “I really need this typewriter to finish my book.” Tinker smiled. “I can see that you truly appreciate old items such as this, in spite of the fact that the modern word processor is readily available. If I may ask, what is this book of yours about?” Tinker listened as Simon told him about his book and about Hunter Black. Tinker seemed to be quite interested. “Ah, yes . . . One such as yourself would be most perfect for this machine. I’ll sell it to you for . . . How does thirty dollars sound?” “Done!” Simon took out his wallet and they completed the transaction. Simon and Connie left the store. Simon secured his new prize into his basket in front of his bike. From there, the two friends rode home. Once Simon was in his room and had the replacement typewriter set up, he put a sheet of paper in and began writing his final chapters.

That night, just a little ways down the street, Dana Shackleton and her boyfriend, Nathan Coaver, were making out in the back seat of his car to finish their date. After many long kisses, they stopped to take a breath. “It’s too bad we both have parents who are home,” Dana said. “I’d fuck you right now!” “Yeah, bummer,” Nathan replied. “You know, we could always go to Strickfield Inn.” Dana grinned. “Tempting, but it’s getting late. If I’m too late getting home, I’ll never hear the end of it. Sorry . . .” Nathan looked over his shoulder. “What’s sorry is that you live next door to Orville Redenbacher.” Dana laughed a little. “I know, I mean you see the way he dresses, right? He dresses just like his grandpa. He must have been a real dweeb, too.” They both laughed. Then Nathan said, “That was so awesome how you tripped him up in the hallway at school today. He looked like he really wanted to kill you.” “He’s such a pussy,” Dana replied. “Connie Graves ain’t,” Nathan reminded her. “She was right in your face when you tripped Simon. You gotta watch out for her.” “You’re right, especially since she lives on the other side of Orville. They’ll probably get married and make more little Orvilles.” They laughed again, but their laughter was cut short when they felt a presence nearby. They both sat up and saw the man wearing the trench coat and fedora who was looking in at them. “Get outta here, you fucking pervert!” Nathan snapped. “Go get your jollies somewhere else!” Dana added. The figure answered by lashing out and shattering the window – with his fist. Then he glared into the car. Just as Nathan was ready to protect his girlfriend, the figure raised what appeared to be a Tommy gun. “You really should watch whom you piss off,” he said in a suave voice. “You never know when your actions can come back to haunt you.” The barrel of the Tommy gun suddenly sparkled with flashing lights . . .

Simon entered Strickfield High the next morning and saw that many students weren’t looking so happy. Connie quickly approached him. “What’s going on?” Simon asked. “You didn’t hear? Dana Shackleton and Nathan Coaver were both killed last night.” She proceeded to tell him what she had heard about the murders. “What?! A machine gun?!” Simon asked in disbelief. “That’s what the police are saying, based on all of the bullet casings they found at the scene. My dad’s on the police force. He said the casings were matched up to a Tommy gun, even though the bodies were burned beyond recognition.” Simon immediately thought of his character. Hunter Black used such a weapon, and his victims were usually burned beyond recognition after he shot them up. Now that he thought about it, he also remembered how Dana had deliberately tripped him in the hallway the day before – after the restroom incident earlier that morning. Oh, how he would have loved to have been the one to have killed Dana, as much as she bullied him. But now . . . he really didn’t have to worry about her anymore. Or Nathan! Simon shrugged. “No big loss. As far as I’m concerned, they both got what they deserved.” Connie’s eyes opened wide. “What?! Simon, this isn’t like you.” He shrugged again. “How many times did you ever get bullied by somebody and wish they were dead?” “Simon, we’ve all gotten bullied in one form or another in our lives, but I certainly don’t wish horrible deaths on them.” Simon became irritated. “Oh, yeah? Well, you haven’t been picked on since freshman year! You never got your head shoved into a toilet by idiot basketball players – and while Dana Shackleton and those other bitches were watching and laughing. As far as I’m concerned, Dana and Nathan getting killed was the best thing that could have ever happened to them.” Connie looked dumbfounded now. She didn’t even try to stop Simon as he turned and walked away from her. She groaned and couldn’t believe this change in Simon. She decided that he needed time to cool down before she would talk to him later.

A week later, Friday, Simon walked in the door after getting home from school. As usual, his mom had left his mail in his room. When he saw the big envelope from Sunset Press, he quickly picked it up and opened it. He found his royalties check and a letter from his editor praising this latest entry into the Hunter Black series. He also found a second check for an advance on the next installment. As it turned out, Simon had some new creative juices, especially when students continued to pick on him. While he himself never went out and harmed anybody, he based the inspiration for Hunter Black’s kills on what he himself would like to do to those who had wronged him. Hey, write about what you know, right? Simon put the envelope down and closed his door. He sat at his new typewriter and put in a sheet of paper. He went to work typing his newest Hunter Black novel, remembering that he would need to call and talk to his editor later.

That night, there was a party at Jason Weller’s barn. The basketball team had finally won their first game to end their losing streak and were celebrating. The students knew that as long as they kept the party away from town, the police wouldn’t look their way in the slightest. Jason was drinking keg beer with his fellow basketball players and talking about anything, especially Simon Griffin. “You’d think that moron would get it by now,” Jason said. “Strickfield stays the same, but people change. I can’t believe he’s still wearing his grandpa’s old clothes.” As they continued to talk about and make fun of Simon, they suddenly were approached by a tall figure wearing a fedora and a trench coat. “You need help, buddy? You look like you’re lost,” Jason jeered. “No . . . but I’m here to help you, son,” the man replied, in his suave voice. Suddenly, the man pulled out a Tommy gun from inside of his trench coat. Everybody quickly scattered as Hunter Black started firing what seemed to be laser rounds. One student after another started going down fast as the bullets made their impact. Some of the students even caught fire and burned to death as a result of the flaming projectiles. Other students managed to get to safety in the barn, but it would be short lived. After Black had run out of ammunition, he reached into his trench coat and pulled out an automatic laser weapon from his time of 2250. He went into the barn and started firing. He managed to kill more of the students. What few that were left ran off. Black didn’t bother pursuing them since they were no threat. Who were they going to tell, the police? When were the police ever a match for Hunter Black?

The next afternoon, Connie came over to get Simon so they could spend the day together like they had planned. Simon’s mother let her come in. “You’ll have to go upstairs and wake him up, dear. He was up working on his new book last night. I don’t think he got to bed until late.” Connie smiled a little. “Okay, thank you, Mrs. Griffin.” She came in and went upstairs to find Simon in his room fast asleep at his desk and wearing his clothes from the day before. Then she saw the newly-typed pages before she went to Simon and shook him a little. “Come on, Simon! Wake up! Remember? We’re hanging out today. Get cleaned up. I’ll still be here.” Simon yawned, got up, and staggered to the bathroom. As soon as she heard the shower going, Connie picked up the pages and read them. Simon never cared if she read his work since she kept it secret. He usually let her read his drafts to get her input. She had just finished when Simon returned. “What do you think?” he asked, when he saw her with the pages. “Wow! You’ve really put a lot more on Hunter Black this time up,” Connie replied. “Especially the way he just shows up to the Polomo family gathering and starts killing everybody.” “I’m thinking of calling it Black’s Revenge,” Simon said. “I already wrote how he was screwed over and survived. Now it’s just a question of him getting through everybody close to Boss Polomo in order to get to Polomo himself.” They talked more about the story as Simon got dressed. She helped him brainstorm new ideas as they left his house and walked to downtown Strickfield. “Looks like the new typewriter’s working good, by the way,” Connie commented. “Like a dream,” Simon agreed. When they reached Denoyer’s Grill, they walked in. Much to their surprise, there weren’t that many people there. Usually, many Strickfield High students came to Denoyer’s for lunch on Saturdays. “You can sit wherever you like,” Martin Donnerly told them as he tended the front counter. Connie and Simon sat at the counter. Then she gasped when she saw the morning headline in the Strickfield Journal that was close to her. Massacre At Friday Night Party She pulled the newspaper to her. As she read the article, her mind suddenly drifted back to the pages that she had read at Simon’s earlier. The article mentioned a barn, so did the pages. Black had used a Tommy gun. Tommy gun shells were found at the scene of last night’s party. Black had used a laser machine gun in the pages. Multiple burns were found all over the barn and on many of the victims at the party. Were these events merely a coincidence? Then Connie recalled how the previous book ended when she got to read those chapters. Detective Richard Hartman was making out with his girl Friday in the back seat of his car. Hunter Black surprised them and killed them both at the end. Coincidently, Dana Shackleton and Nathan Coaver were both killed in the back seat of Nathan’s car. Tommy gun shells were found at the scene and the bodies were burned beyond recognition – in both scenarios. Connie had a great time with Simon, but she just couldn’t shake that feeling of déjà vu all day. At the end of the day, Simon and Connie were standing on her front porch. “It’s awful dark in there,” Simon observed. “You going to be okay in there by yourself?” “Oh, my parents are usually gone on weekends,” Connie said. “Work-related shit . . . Anyway, I’ll be all right.” She yawned. “I’m probably going to go to bed.” Simon smiled a little. “Okay . . . I’m probably going to work on those ideas we talked about today. You’re right, it’s time to bring Felicity Scorne back.” That seemed to give Connie a second wind. “You want me to come over and work with you?” “You sure you don’t mind?” he asked. She raised an eyelid. “You know me better than that.” Simon smiled more now. “Okay, let go up to my room.”

The two of them were sitting in Simon’s bedroom talking about Felicity Scorne, the female counterpart and potential love interest for Hunter Black. Simon said that since Connie was the inspiration for the character, Connie would become Felicity Scorne. Simon wrote a few scenes involving Hunter Black as he interacted with Scorne. The two of them had even talked about having the two characters finally get together romantically. The more Simon had written, the more Connie would read and make suggestions. This new book was really starting to come together. Simon and Connie had finally taken a break after hours of making more of Hunter Black’s world a reality on the printed pages. And before Connie realized it, she moved into Simon and began to kiss him. He kissed her back. Then they continued to kiss with heavy passion before they both fell onto his bed.

Hunter Black and Felicity Scorne met up during a revenge killing. As it turned out, they were both looking to kill another member of Boss Polomo’s family, one of his daughters. Boss Polomo had severely wronged Felicity Scorne as well. Black and Scorne were at a standoff and pointed their weapons at each other, neither one willing to back down. Finally, they both lowered their guns knowing that they were good enough to have ended each other’s lives. They ultimately agreed to partner up in their quest for vengeance and decided they were better off working together than being enemies. After killing a few more members of the Polomo family, they went somewhere and ended up consummating their new partnership.

Connie yawned and woke up. She realized that her head was resting on Simon’s chest. Then she sat up and remembered that they had made heated passion together. As she got out of bed, she saw the bags of money and piles of expensive jewelry in the closet and gasped. What did we do?! she thought to herself. She had to think. She put her underwear back on and sat down at Simon’s desk. She took some deep breathes and cleared her head. What did we do?! she thought again. Then the images all started coming back to her. She and Simon had gone out. They had gone over to Strickfield Commons, where two of the jocks and three of their girlfriends lived. She had gotten into Monica Van Dreer’s house quite easily, in spite of the security measures. Finding Monica in her bed, she yanked the covers off and relished the look on Monica’s face when she was staring into the barrel of a modified laser Uzi. She remembered talking to Monica, but she sounded nothing like herself. She had even seen herself in Monica’s mirror. “I was Felicity Scorne!” she mouthed to herself. “I was really Felicity Scorne!” Felicity gave Monica a deadly smirk before she riddled her full of lasers. She went throughout the rest of the house and took care of the rest of the family too. She had found the safe and easily got it open. From there, she had helped herself to a hefty score. After leaving there, she would meet up with Simon, who was now Hunter Black. They would have their standoff, but they would decide that they were better off working together. From there, they would go and collect on a few more lives . . . and more hefty scores. Connie looked at herself in the mirror. She didn’t look anything like Felicity Scorne now, aside from the fire-engine-red lipstick she wore. She got up and returned to the bed to shake Simon. When he finally woke up, Connie explained everything to him. She even showed him the money and jewelry. She ended her explanation with a realization. “Simon, the typewriter brings your imagination to life somehow. Everything you type happens!” Simon further listened as Connie explained all of the coincidences between his pages and what had actually happened. Simon was amazed with Connie’s revelations, but he really didn’t seem to care when it came to those who were murdered as a result of his writings. “Those people never cared about me. Why should I care about them?” Simon sat down at the typewriter and loaded a sheet. “You know, I think I’m feeling some new inspiration. I think maybe Hunter Black and Felicity Scorne should just burn Strickfield High School to the ground – with everyone inside.” As Simon began to type, it seemed that everything in front of him had suddenly become a huge splash of crimson, speckled with some gray. Simon sat motionless for a moment before his body slumped to the floor, minus the top half of his head. “I feel just . . . amazing!” Connie purred softly as she raised the modified Uzi she had just dispatched Simon with. “After we fucked, I did some writing of my own, lover,” Connie said, but she sounded more like Felicity Scorne now. She smirked in the same sinister way that Scorne did. What was more, she felt positively no remorse for anything. Not even what she had just done to Simon. “I know we promised we’d always be friends. But promises . . . are made to be broken.” Connie looked at the old typewriter. Then she smirked again as she relished the horrible mess that she had created. She opened the desk drawer where she had her pages stashed and felt the excitement of knowing that everything she had typed had come true. “Why should we share this incredible power – when I can have it all?” She read the rest of the pages and knew that she would have one more thing to do. She proceeded to find Simon’s mother downstairs and kill her as well. With nothing to stop Connie, she got dressed and managed to smuggle the typewriter and all of the pages that were typed on it to her house. After cleverly hiding the pages, she set up the typewriter. Now that she had ultimate power at literally her fingertips, she could use her imagination to fulfill all of her dreams. What was more, Connie would discover that by burning the pages that Simon had written using the typewriter, the events that had occurred would be erased and the lives taken would be fully restored.

One year later, Connie was sitting at a table inside of a major bookstore in Shore City. People lined up around the block to both buy her new book and get her to autograph it for them. She had written the first book in an ongoing new science fiction series starring Felicity Scorne, which quickly outsold even the first Hunter Black novel. Her book was also #1 on the New York Times Best Seller List, something Simon had never done. However, Connie also kept the Hunter Black series going, using what was Simon’s pen name and cashing in on that as well. Yes, Connie Graves truly knew of the ultimate power that she possessed with the typewriter. All she had to do was simply take it away from Simon. Money, power, luxuries, new lifestyles, a permanent vacation – everything that she could ever want . . . was literally at her fingertips. And her imagination . . .

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Ep.91 – Camp Dead and Buried - This Summer is Hot and DEADLY

Episode Notes

It was the last night of the 1980 season at a run-down old summer camp, and the hottest night in Indiana history.  So hot that somebody might lose their mind, and not every counselor will survive the night!

Camp Dead and Buried by John Oak Dalton

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Ep.90 – The Beast of Roca de Vaca - Chupacabra is Hungry!

Episode Notes

Roca de Voca has something loose on it's grounds, it's hungry and it's smart enough to find where you sleep...

The Beast of Roca de Vaca by Morgan Moore

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Ep.89 – Bed and Breakfast and Zombies - A Nightmare Vacation!

Episode Notes

Summer vacations can really bite, but this trip takes it to an entirely new level!

Bed and Breakfast and Zombies by Keith Tomlin

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Transcript:

Jake sighed loudly as he stared out the second-story window of the bed and breakfast that he and his father had been staying at for the last few days.

‘This sucks,’ he thought, ‘I should have gone to grandpa’s with mom.’

His family was on a rare vacation, taking a trip from Chicago to New York City to visit his mom’s parents. It was the four of them, Jake, his little sister, Sarah, his father, Edward, and his mother, Karen, all jammed into a 12-year-old Volvo wagon.

Jake remembered when his father, during breakfast a few days ago, could barely contain his excitement. “Kids, I was looking over my papers last night,” he said, pointing to a huge stack of papers that he poured over every moment that he wasn’t driving, “and I found something exciting!” He looked wide-eyed at both of his children. Sara was using all of her concentration to draw on a coloring page that doubled as the kid’s menu so Edward focused on his 11-year-old son. “Jake, how would you like to look for some witches!”

Jake was swept away with his dad’s excitement. They dropped the others off at his grandfather’s house and jumped back on the road to a small town in New York called Stones Creek. Jake wondered what they needed to hunt witches. Do we need garlic or maybe silver bullets? What Jake didn’t know, and soon found out, was the only things they needed was the local library and long walks in an old graveyard across the street from the Grinning Cat Inn, the bed and breakfast at which they would be staying.

Jake was bored. He sighed, louder this time.

“I heard you the first time.”, his dad said, without looking up from the papers he copied from the library. When he finished the page, he finally looked at Jake, removing his unlit pipe from his mouth and pointed at Jake with it.

“Why don’t you go outside and play?” he said, gesturing to the door with his pipe.

“But, dad, I’m bored… ” Jake said, his shoulders slumping forward. “Look, once I get through these pages, we can take a walk. You can either go outside and play until then or sit there quietly and read a book.” His dad gave him one last stern look before turning his attention back to his stack of papers.

‘Read a book?’ Jake thought. ‘Why is it always books with him?’

Jake didn’t want books, he wanted fun and adventure. Suppressing another sigh, he turned his attention back to the window. He was surprised to see a car on the road. He had only seen one other car all day. He was even more surprised, and excited, to see that car start to slow down.

“Dad, dad, dad,” Jake said quickly, as he had always done when he grew excited. “There is a car turning into the parking lot.”

“Really? That’s interesting,” his dad mumbled.

Jake watched intently as the car glided to a stop in front of the inn. The driver, a huge, bulky man, got out and opened the rear door. A well-dressed man stepped out of the backseat of the car, quickly followed by a young boy who looked around Jake’s age.

“Dad, dad, dad, dad…” Jake said getting louder with each word. “They have a kid. Can I go down and meet him? Come on, dad… Can I?” Jack started jumping back and forth from one foot to the other.

“Okay, hang on,” his dad said, taking off his glasses and rubbing the bridge of his nose. “Alright, I guess I’m done here for now. I don’t want you scaring the poor child with your… enthusiasm.” Edward set the stack of papers aside, “Let’s go downstairs and greet the new arrivals.”

The door to the Grinning Cat Inn flew open and the large man entered. He scanned the room before stepping aside, allowing the well-dressed man to enter. The reception room was lined with cedar panels and had a counter that ran along one wall. A large staircase, leading up, was right across from the front door. Two other doorways lead to a dining room and a large den with a roaring fire in the fireplace. Upon hearing the door, the owner of the inn, Mr. Jarvison, a tall, thin elderly man, moved to the counter.

Good evening, how may I help you?” asked Mr. Jarvison. The well-dressed man walked over to the counter and, with a thick Slavic accent, said “I am Count Dmitry Romanova, I have reservation for two rooms.”

“Yes, of course, your rooms are ready, mister… How should I address you?” Mr. Jarvison’s asked.

“Please, you may call me Count Romanova,” said the Count. “The title is largely symbolic at this point but,” he shrugged, “we do have our protocols.”

“Yes, sir, I will show you to your rooms,” Mr. Jarvison said, half bowing.

Count Romanova waved him off. “Ivan, my…. manservant, will look to the rooms and luggage. I wish to relax by the fire,” he said, pointing towards the den. He then looked at Ivan, who nodded and gestured at Mr. Jarvison to lead the way up the stairs.

The Count turned towards the door and called out, “Come, Nikolai, let’s rest before dinner.” A small-framed child, around ten years old, entered the inn. He silently followed his father into the den.

Edward and Jake had to press themselves against the wall to allow Ivan to pass them on the stairway. Jake stared at the large man, shocked at the sheer size of him. Ivan stopped and turned, glaring at Jake, who quickly turned and ran to catch up with his father.

Twenty minutes later, Jake was standing outside with Nikolai, trying to find a way to end the awkward silence that hung over them. It took his dad a few minutes to convince the Count to allow his son outside to play and now Jake was wishing that his father had failed.

“So, uh…” Jake said. “Do you like to play ball?”

“Sorry, I do not know this game, ball,” Nikolai replied, in broken English.

“No, ball is not a game… Well, it’s part of a game,” Jake thought that over for a few seconds. “Never mind, do you want to play… hide and seek?” Jake said, hopefully. “Hide and seek? What do we hide?” Nikolai asked.

“No,” Jake said, frustrated, “You go hide and I try to find you.”

Nikolai asked, “We are to be friends, correct?”

Jake nodded.

“Then why would I hide from you?” Nikolai asked. “Friends should trust each other and not need to hide.”

“Huh, I never thought of it that way,” Jake said. “Okay, well... uh… we could…” Jake was stumped. He racked his brain for something to do and his face lit up when he finally thought of something that no kid could resist.

“Do you want to see something scary?” Jake teased, with a big grin.

The young foreign boy nodded slowly.

Edward leaned forward on the overstuffed chair, tapping his pipe on the stone of the fireplace and sweeping the ashes into the fire.

“What brings you to this little corner of nowhere, Count?” Edward asked, leaning back and refilling his pipe. He looked apologetically at Mr. Jarvison, “Sorry, no offense.”

“None taken, this is a small town, very small,” Mr. Jarvison agreed.

The Count took another puff on his cigar and slowly let the smoke escape his mouth, “I came to America on a diplomatic trip but I wanted to take some time to visit relatives.”

Mr. Jarvison sat up, beaming, “You have relations living here?”

Count Romanova slowly shook his head, “Living? No, sorry, I used the wrong word. I have… ” he waved his hand in the air causing ash to fall onto the arm of his chair, “ancestors here, in cemetery.” He pointed toward the graveyard.

Jake led Nikolai across the street and into the old graveyard. They walked through the old gravestones, many of which were so weathered that you couldn’t read the words engraved upon them. Jake spent many hours here the last few days walking the overgrown paths between the graves with his father. This place held little interest for Jake except for an ancient crypt that they were now approaching. It was a small stone building with vines growing up the walls towards the tiled roof. The most striking feature of this building was that along each wall there were a pair of statues that looked like they were emerging out of the stone surface. Each statue was of a creature with a bald head, pointy ears, and a mouth with razor-sharp teeth. His dad said they were ghouls, undead creatures that feast on the flesh of the living.

“What do you think?” Jake asked as they approached the crypt. He snuck a sideways glance, hoping to have scared the other boy but, instead, he looked amazed. The smaller boy slowly walked around the building, admiring each statue in turn. He then walked along each wall, running his hand along the stone surface as he went.

Nikolai turned to Jake and asked, “Where is the door?”

“Yeah, my dad wondered the same thing, weird, huh?” Jake replied.

Nikolai continued to walk around the building, examining each wall as he went. He finally stopped and waved at Jake, pointing at a brick in the wall. Jake walked over and bent close to discover that there were drawings etched into this brick, drawings his dad would have called runes. The more he looked, the more they seemed to shimmer. He began tracing them with his finger and he swore he felt them start to grow hot.

Jake took a step back to ask Nikolai if he had spotted any other bricks like this when his head started to buzz. The buzzing turned into a voice, deep inside his head. The voice began whispering six words over and over again. Six words that he did not understand. These words got louder and louder until they finally burst from his lips in a booming voice. “Custos secreta, praedo malum, aperire ostium,” Jake was unable to stop himself from chanting.

“Custos secreta, praedo malum, aperire ostium,” Jake heard a low hum coming from the wall in front of him.

“Custos secreta, praedo malum, aperire ostium,” The runes started to glow brightly.

“Custos secreta, praedo malum, aperire ostium!” Jake’s voice roared and the wall opened.

The Count tossed the remains of his cigar into the fireplace and looked over at Edward, “What brings you here?”

Edward leaned forward excitedly as if he has been waiting to answer that question all evening, “Well, in my day job, I am a history professor at the University of Chicago but my real passion is writing about the occult, magic, and the supernatural.” He took a puff off of his pipe and continued. “I was researching the Salem witch trials, trying to see if I could bring anything new to the table, when I uncovered a series of correspondence between two sisters, both witches. One, sadly, was convicted of witchcraft and perished in Salem,” he shook his head, “the other one wrote about her coven moving here to help protect witches against persecution.”

“Most intriguing,” said the Count. “Did they say how they would protect the witches?”

“I haven’t found many details on that,” Edward said, sounding annoyed, “except that it involved the undead.”

Mr. Jarvison looked around uneasily.

The secret door in the crypt’s wall swung open, revealing an empty room except for a steep staircase leading down. The air smelled stale and musty and there was an eerie silence. Jake looked at Nikolai who stared back, wide-eyed. Both boys both started forward, Jake in the lead.
The staircase ended in a stone door. Jake pushed against it until the door finally screeched open. The sound reverberated throughout the entire structure, sending chills down Jake’s spine. The room it revealed was dark, the light from outside barely penetrating several feet. Jake hesitantly stepped forward and flames shot around the room as a dozen torches flared to life. They revealed a large, circular room with a dozen stone doors around the perimeter. The floor was made of white marble with black marble inlays, creating a large pentagram. In the center of the pentagram stood an altar with a large leather-bound book sitting atop it.

“Wow… ” Jake exclaimed as he took in the sight. He looked back to check on Nikolai, who was a few steps behind him. Jake slowly moved forward, fascinated by the book. Almost without realizing it, he was standing in front of the altar, staring down at the large tome. He looked back and Nikolai was standing at the edge of the pentagram with one foot raised as if he was trying to decide if he wanted to cross over it or not. Jake turned back and reached out to touch the book.

The room exploded in white light and Jake was blinded as he heard Nikolai cry out in pain. A series of loud thumps shook the ground as the stone doors fell open. He looked up and saw black shapes moving behind each doorway. Jake turned and started to run toward the stairs. Nikolai was on the ground at the edge of the pentagram, withering in pain. As Jake paused to help Nikolai, he glanced around the room.

In each of the dozen doorways, a walking corpse emerged. Each dressed in filthy flowing white robes. Their skin was leathery and taunt across their face and hands. As they emerged from the darkness, they raised their heads as if they were searching for something, sniffing almost like dogs. Jake could hear the wet rattles of them inhaling deeply. The creatures didn’t look like the ones from the movies but he knew what they were, zombies.

Jake stood there, paralyzed with fear until the nearest zombie suddenly caught the scent of something in the air and whipped it heads around to stare at the two boys. A rune, carved into each of their foreheads, began to glow as they opened their mouths and moaned. Jake pulled Nikolai up and pushed him towards the stairs. Without taking another look behind him, he ran.

“Are there any of these… witches… still around?” the Count asked.

“That’s what I’ve been trying to find out. I believe that most of the original settlers were witches. I’ve been looking at genealogy records and, as far as I can tell, the last of their living relatives perished in a fire back in the late 1950s,” Edward said somberly.

“Yes, that was an awful thing,” Mr. Jarvison mused. “My family lived a few counties over when it happened. I was just a young child but I still remember the news accounts, very sad. Most of the town was attending some kind of meeting at the town hall when it caught on fire. Very few survived.”

All three men fell silent.

The two children burst from the crypt, sounds of heavy footsteps echoing from the darkness behind them. Jake paused a moment to try to get his bearings, the sun was going down and he was a bit confused on how to get back to the inn. Nikolai had kept running straight into the overgrown brush that had overtaken this part of the cemetery. Upon hearing footsteps at the top of the stairs behind him, Jake quickly followed.

‘Why did he have to run this way?’ Jake wondered as a sticker bush tugged at his clothes. He finally gave a great pull and fell back into a clearing. Getting up, he saw that he was the stone path that followed the 10-foot tall stone wall that surrounded the cemetery. Jake recognized some of the tall monuments and he knew where he was. Jake turned toward the right and ran along the path.

After a few minutes of running, Jake heard a scream coming from ahead of him. ‘They must have got Nikolai,’ Jake thought. He began to run faster.

The Count broke the silence suddenly, “Did you hear a noise? Something is not right.”

The other two men shook their heads, looking around the room.

“Ivan,” the count said quietly. The large man stepped forward out of the shadows, quiet as a mouse. “Go check on Nikolai”. Ivan nodded and glided off.

“Something is not right,” Count Romanova repeated himself, looking out the window into the growing darkness.

Jake ran faster than he had ever ran in his life. As the path turned toward the entrance, he tripped on a tree root and was sent flying. He hit the ground hard and rolled a few times before landing against a small tree. However, when he looked up, he realized that it wasn’t a tree, it was the legs of a large zombie. The undead creature looked down at him and, surprisingly, turned away and shambled on. Jake was stunned but flew back into action when he heard Nikolai cry out again, this time very close.

Jake looked around and saw Nikolai standing at the entrance to the cemetery, in the middle of a ring of five zombies. One had grabbed him by the arm and was lifting him up while the others reached out for him, the runes growing brightly on their forehead. Jake picked up a rotting tree branch for a weapon and started to move to help Nikolai. He stopped when he saw a huge shape come out of the darkness. He sighed with relief when he realized it was Ivan but the look of murderous rage on the big man’s face almost as scared him as the zombies did.

Ivan waded into the middle of the group of zombies with a ferocity that Jake had never seen before. Ivan tossed the zombies aside like they were rag dolls, striking them with thunderous blows that didn’t seem to do any real damage to them. When a creature was knocked down, they would rise back up and continue their assault. When three more zombies stumbled into view, Ivan pushed the two nearest ones down, picked up Nikolai, and ran back toward the inn.

Seeing the Ivan disappear back into the darkness jolted Jake into action and he ran after them.

The door to the inn crashed open and Ivan charged inside, still carrying Nikolai. Ivan’s suit was torn and his face and arms were covered with scratches. Jake ran in after them and slammed the door shut, locking it.

“Dad! Zombies!” Jake yelled.

“Uh, what?” Edward said leaping to his feet. Right then, the window behind Edward exploded inward. Undead hands clawed at the window sill, trying to pull themselves into the room. Another window was smashed and loud thumping shook the front door as the dead tried to break it down.

“Oh my! What is going on?” yelled a terrified Mr. Jarvison.

Ivan ran to hold the front door as Edward grabbed a lamp and started hitting at the arms reaching into the den. They could hear glass breaking in other rooms of the house.

Mr. Jarvison finally snapped and ran out of the den. He let out a terrified scream as a zombie lurched out of the dining room in the reception area. It ignored Mr. Jarvison as it shambled toward the Count, the rune on its forehead glowing brighter with each step.

“The runes!” Edward yelled, pointing at the glowing brand on a zombie’s forehead. “Some powerful magic created these things.”

“Can you stop them?” Jake said, fearing the answer.

“Not without knowing the spell used to animate them,” Edward yelled back, using the lamp he to push a zombie off the window sill.

“Jake, the book!” Nikolai yelled, trying to help his father who was struggling with the zombie from the dining room.

“Yeah, dad, there is some kind of spell book or something in that weird crypt in the graveyard,” Jake said to his father.

“That may be our only chance,” Edward shot back. “Count! We need to get to the crypt, now!” he yelled.

The Count, who was holding his own against the zombie, yelled out, “Ivan, to me! We need to get to the graveyard.” Ivan rushed over and toss the zombie attacking the Count outside, through a broken window. Just as Ivan turned back to the front door, it burst open and three more zombies began to stumble in. Ivan ran and leaped, knocking them back outside.

“Go, go!” yelled Edward as everyone ran toward the front door.

The next ten minutes seemed like a nightmare to Jake. Ivan was an unstoppable tank, running through the dark, knocking over any creature in his way. The rest of the group followed in his wake, trying to keep up. Once in the graveyard, Edward pointed the way to the crypt.

The small party entered the crypt and ran down the stairs to the large, marble room. Edward ran over to the book on the altar. Ivan stood with his back pressed up against the door, waiting for any sign of the undead creatures. The Count and his son stood just off to the side of Ivan, backs to the wall.

Something felt off to Jake but he didn’t know what it was. He watched his dad quickly flip through the book, struggling to understand the words on the pages. Jake tried to connect the pieces, there was something he couldn’t put together.

“Wait, I think I got it… ” Edward said, almost to himself. He began reading the words from the book in a loud, booming voice.

The undead began pounding on the door and Ivan, muscles bulging, struggled to keep the door shut.

The ground began to shake and a wind started to rip through the chamber. Howls of anger and pain roared from behind the door as the undead intensified their attack.

Something finally clicked in Jake’s mind. ‘The zombies ignored me and Mr. Jarvison. The runes grew brighter when they get closer to the Count and his son… ’

“Dad, stop! The zombies aren’t after us, they are after them!” Jake yelled, pointing at the Count, who looked back at Jake with a wide grin.

Edward showed no sign of hearing his son. He kept chanting and as he chanted, his voice grew even louder and the tremors became more powerful. When Edward reached the end of the spell, the black marble of the pentagram burst into flames. The pounding on the door ceased as a silence descended over the room.

Edward leaned against the altar, exhausted. Ivan opened the door and only empty robes littered the floor, no sign of the zombies. Jake started to run to his father when the ground began to vibrate. The white marble floor started to crack as clawed hands began digging their way out of the ground.

“What?” Jake exclaimed, “more zombies?”

“Oh no,” the Count remarked, “these are the relatives I spoke of earlier, my ancestors.”

The Count laughed as he began to change. His face elongated while his teeth grew sharp. His hair disappeared while his ears grew larger and more pointed. He became one of the creatures from the statues on the outside of the crypt, he became a ghoul. Ivan and Nikolai also began to revert to their true selves.

“Those meddling witches kept my family imprisoned for hundreds of years. When we discovered them, we took our revenge and burned them all but we needed someone pure of heart to open the crypt, someone like your son,” said the count, running his tongue over his razor-sharp teeth. “We also needed another fool to undue the spell of protection and destroy those pesky undead guardians of theirs,” he said, gesturing back towards the white robes. “It took a bit of planning but we were finally able to forge those letters to draw you here.”

Dozens of ghouls were slowly extracting themselves from the ground, their shinning eyes looking hungrily at Jake and Edward.

“I do hope you will join us for dinner,” the Count bellowed, laughing.

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Ep.88 – Dead Ahead - All Roads Lead to DEATH and REVENGE

Episode Notes

A late night drive goes deadly wrong, but now with the help of some black magic things could go from dead to worse.

Dead Ahead by Joe Solmo

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“Becca! Don’t come out here with your witchy bullshit!” Tom yelled as he threw another shovel full of dirt behind him. “If you want to help, get in here and help me dig.” “It’s not witchy bullshit. I’m telling you this is bad. A person died. We did it. This is going to come back on us three-fold. This is a lot of negative energy,” Becca said pushing her long brown hair behind her ear. Her boyfriend Tom was in a hole about three feet deep and getting deeper by the second. “Come take your turn. I need a break. It’s a lot harder than they make it look in the movies,” Tom said. “I told you I want no part in this,” Becca replied taking a step back into the chilly night. “You already are a part of this. You are just as guilty as I am. This poor bastard died because of both of us,” Tom retorted clanging the shovel off the corpse laying on the damp ground. “I wasn’t the one driving!” Becca said, wiping a tear from her eye. “And I suppose your next excuse is going to be you had your mouth full and couldn’t see over the wheel, right?” Tom sneered. “Look neither of us wanted this, but we have to take care of it. Do you know what would happen if we went to the cops?” “Yeah, I know. We are wanted. Look, I don’t want to go to jail for murder either,” Becca argued. “Murder? Who said anything about murder? It was an accident. We might get manslaughter, but surely not murder,” Tom responded pulling himself out of the hole and wiping his brow. His blond hair dirty with the earth he had been tossing. “This will have to be deep enough.” “What if someone finds the body?” Becca asked. “No one would give a fuck. This is Jersey.” “I think you’ve watched too many mob movies,” Becca said and turned away from the grave. She looked at the car, sitting just off the road enough into the pines to be hidden from the traffic. Her blue eyes focused on the dent in the passenger side bumper, and the blood that stood out starkly on the white paint.  They were never going to get away with it, she thought. There was just too much evidence. They should have just called the cops when they hit that jogger. One thing was for sure, it was the last time Tom was going to talk her into road head. “Becca, are you even paying attention?” Tom asked. She turned around and saw him standing there with the jogger’s arms in his hand. “Come on, help me swing him into the hole,” he finished impatiently. “I told you I don’t want that negative energy,” she said crossing her arms in defiance. “I told you that witchy bullshit has to go. We have been dating almost a year now and I haven’t seen you do shit with it. So, unless you are going to wiggle your nose and lift the corpse into the grave, get your ass over here and lift this bastard with me,” Tom said tossing the jogger’s arms down onto the damp earth. Becca rolled her eyes. With a sigh she gave in and walked around to the jogger’s feet. She grabbed his ankles and looked at Tom, waiting. “Well, are we doing this?” she asked. Tom grabbed the other end and together they put the jogger into the open grave. She looked at the mangled person lying there, wondering what kind of life he had had before they had taken it from him. Did he have a family? Was someone looking for him?  Her thoughts were interrupted when the jogger’s face got a shovel full of dirt. She looked up at Tom and saw him in a new light. This was too easy for him. She wondered if this was the first time he had to bury a body. She really didn’t know much of his past. He never spoke about his life before they met last year. She knew he wasn’t Mr. Right, more of a Mr. Right Now. One that got her out of a bad situation. If she was being honest, he was a bit of an asshole. “Don’t worry, I got this,” he said as he continued to throw dirt into the grave. “We only have the one shovel. You want me to use my hands” she snipped at him. “Why don’t you go wait in the car then,” Tom responded. “I was going to say a few words when we were done. Nothing much, but something should be said.” Tom scoffed. “I’ll say something, don’t worry about it.” “Sometimes you can be a real jerk, you know that?” she said and stormed off sullenly to the car, she plopped in the passenger seat, slamming the door. “You like him so much maybe you should give him head too, I think it’s going to get real stiff soon,” Tom yelled smacking the corpse again with the shovel. Becca could hear it ring out even from the car. She reached under the seat and found her bag. She dug inside for a cigarette, just to take the edge off. She pulled out a worn paperback.  Payback Rituals and Spells of Revenge. She remembered that her friend Amanda let her borrow it. They had found it in her mother’s items after her suicide. That was just before she left town with Tom. She thumbed through it while waiting. The Revenant: The dead with a mission. Bring a recently deceased person back to right the wrong of death. This is a gray area of balance with nature. On the one hand, it disrupts death, but it can help the soul reach peace through resolution. The weight of this ritual can weigh heavy on one’s soul. Caution should be used while contemplating this ritual. Haste will be your enemy. “Ha. Would serve the asshole right if I brought that jogger back. Teach him a lesson. I’m the only one stupid enough to miss him, and it would absolve my guilt,” Becca said to the empty car. “Haven’t done shit with it…” “Hey babe, I’m all done just going to say a few words,” Tom yelled as he unzipped his zipper. A steaming stream landed on the newly packed earth. “Ooohhh. Awwwww. Those enough words for ya?” he called over his shoulder. “That son of a bitch,” Becca said and got out of the car, but instead of heading towards him, she went off into the woods alone with her bag. “Where you going? It was just a joke!” he called out as he shook out the last drops. “Come on babe!” Tom chased off after her into the woods. “Babe?”  He heard a few twigs snap off to his left, he turned in that direction but it was too dark to make anything out. She was heading farther into the barrens away from the highway. “Okay. You made your point. Come back and do a real Eulogy. I won’t interrupt, I promise!” Tom called out into the night. Was that a flashlight ahead? He sighed and headed towards the light he saw. Becca was on her knees in a small clearing, illuminated not only by the moonlight above, but by her flashlight laying on the dew-covered grass in front of her. She was saying something over and over again in a whisper that Tom couldn’t make out. “Babe?” he said shining his light on her back, casting her shadow on the trees around them. “It’s done, we can leave now.” Becca opened her eyes and turned her head. Quickly she placed some objects into her bag before he could see what they were. “Be right with you,” she said and stood up, wiping off her stockings. She reached down for her bag, but his hand on hers froze her in place. “What were you doing out here with your bag?” he asked, intensely meeting her gaze. “I had to use the bathroom and I didn’t want to do it close to the highway,” Becca replied and pulled her hand away from his. She clutched her bag to her chest with one hand and gestured with the other. “Lead the way!” she finished sarcastically. “You know, sometimes you can be a real bitch. You better get that in check before I leave your ass for a younger model,” he said as he led the way back towards the car. “I doubt you could find someone that would put up with your shit for very long.” Tom turned and faced her. “I’m serious. Your looks will only get you so far. You better drop that attitude…before I drop you,” he threatened. “Are you kidding me? You’re threatening me?” “It’s not a threat, it’s a promise,” he said and stared at her for a few seconds. When she didn’t respond, he turned back into the woods and continued on. “That’s the most cliché saying,” Becca mumbled under her breath, but followed Tom into the night. She heard the words Tom spoke again, but this time it wasn’t his voice, it was her father’s. The threats and beatings that she had been suppressing came rushing back. She remembered the last time he spoke those words to her. It was just a little over one year ago, she had come home from Amanda’s house where they were studying for the History final. She came in through the back door into the kitchen. It was seven p.m. and she had not eaten since lunch. She bumped into the dish rack sending a steak knife onto the floor. She closed her eyes and froze, hoping her father had not heard. Becca remembered opening her eyes and then rummaging through the cabinet for something to eat. Her eyes lit up when she found a box of cereal. In her haste to eat, she dropped the box scattering the flakes across the linoleum floor. Her father entered the room a second later and saw the mess on the floor. “What is this? Clean this up!” he yelled as he made his way to the fridge for another beer. At this time of night, he was probably on his fifth. She tried to walk past him to get the broom from the closet, but her father’s large hands stopped her. He threw her down to the floor. “I said clean this up, you clumsy bitch!” “I was getting the broom!” she said, looking up at him through tear-blurred eyes. “I didn’t say get the broom, I said clean this shit up!” her father yelled and kicked her arm that she was leaning on. Her face dropped down onto the floor among the cereal. She blinked the tears away and saw in front of her the knife she had dropped earlier. Becca sat up on the floor, placing the steak knife under her so that he didn’t see it. She looked up at her father as he cracked open his fresh can of beer. He turned towards her. “You’re so hungry. Eat it off the floor,” he said and pushed her back down. “Eat it, you pig or I swear to God I will end you!” “Are you threatening me?” “That’s not a threat, slut. That’s a promise,” her father said. Becca gripped the knife hard and stabbed her father in the thigh. He cried out and dropped his beer. With his other leg he kicked her. She had the knife gripped so tight she pulled it out of him as she fell back. “What did you do, bitch? I will kill you!” she remembered him saying before she had lost control. The next thing she remembered was her father laying in a strange pool of blood, cereal, and beer on the floor. He was still.


Becca came out of it as they neared the car. Tom threw the shovel and flashlight into the trunk and walked around to the driver’s side as Becca stood there, trying to make the image leave her mind. “What’s wrong with you?” Tom asked. Becca looked towards the shallow grave with a look of disappointment before turning back to Tom. Was she going to actually get back into his car after what he said? She looked at Tom and saw her father’s face. She tried to shake that image. This time it was different, this time it wasn’t self-defense. Just Tom being an asshole. She had her doubts that he would actually hit her. A twig snapped in the woods and both of them turned towards the sound. In the darkness something stirred. “Who’s out there?” Tom called. The only response was the sound of a heavy footfall. Becca’s hair started to stand on the back of her neck and she got an uneasy feeling. She tried to get in the car, but it was locked. “Tom?” she said unevenly. Tom didn’t answer, his eyes transfixed on the image before him. In the flashing lights from the passing cars on the highway Becca caught a glimpse of the man approaching.   Another loud footfall from the man, as he dragged behind him the broken leg inside the bloodstained pair of sweatpants. Becca looked on in horror at the twisted neck and the head lolling to one side. Did it actually work? “Tom, open the door. Let’s get out of here,” Becca said, second guessing what she had done. It looked so wrong as it moved towards them. “One sec babe,” Tom said and pulled out the pistol he kept tucked into the back of his jeans. “I think this asshole wants to play.” “TOM! Unlock the fucking door,” she begged as fear tears started to flow. Her heart was pounding in her ears. Tom took a step closer to the reanimated jogger. “That’s far enough, asshole. It was an accident. I am sure you can appreciate that. Let’s go get a beer and talk this over,” Tom said aiming the pistol at the joggers head. “Tom. He won’t listen!” Becca yelled in fear. She ran to the trunk of the car. Luckily Tom had not shut it, and she grabbed the shovel. Beside the shovel in the truck was a hunting knife. She tucked the blade into her belt and hefted the shovel as she came around the car. Tom came into view just in time for her to see the jogger lunge at him, he fired a shot off. They fell to the ground, the jogger on top, his head flopped around as they struggled, but its hands were wrapped around Tom’s neck. She cried out and ran over to help. She swung the shovel and hit the jogger in the back, to little affect. A few more swings made no difference. In her frustration she threw down the shovel and kicked the jogger, who fell off the side of Tom, but didn’t let go of his neck. Becca could hear Tom trying to gasp for air. She grabbed the jogger’s arms and tried to pull them off of Tom, but the grip was too strong, Tom was going to die. She did this, she called the revenant back from the grave. She should have known better. The witchy bullshit was going to kill Tom.  He could no longer say she didn’t do shit with it. Just then Becca had an epiphany. Tom was going to die. The thing was busy with Tom! She scrambled into Tom’s pants pockets and found the car keys. She jumped to her feet and ran to the car. She fired up the engine and threw it in reverse. With a final look at Tom, who was now still, she punched the gas and backed towards the highway. Tom never let her drive, but she had seen it enough to figure it out. The car bounced over the uneven ground as she sped in reverse towards the lights behind her. Once she was on the side of the road, she spun the car around and threw it into drive. She pulled out onto the highway cutting off a truck who blared its horn at her. She opened an energy drink Tom had bought earlier but left on the seat unopened and took a swig. There was going to be a new Becca now. One who took no one’s shit. 


Later that evening Becca sat at the small motel table in her room. She was going through the loot they had accumulated over the past year. She found a bag of cash that she didn’t know about and had just finished counting it. Twelve thousand dollars was a lot of money. More than she had ever seen. Why did Tom always tell her they were broke? There was a bang on the door. It must be the pizza I ordered, she thought and rose from the chair. Another bang on the door before she could reach it. “I’m coming,” she called out, grabbing a twenty from the table. She was going to tip big, why not share her good fortune? She opened the door and dropped the cash. Standing on the other side was her father, and the jogger. “No,” her mouth formed to say, but no noise came out. She took a step back into the room in horror of what she was looking at. With arm extended they entered, grasping for her. “No! Why are you here? Tom was driving!” she said to the jogger then looked into her father’s dead eyes. “You deserved what you got, you son of a bitch! There is no revenge for you,” she said in defiance. Becca was a new woman and wasn’t going to take shit from her father alive or dead. She reached behind her and pulled the hunting knife out of her belt. The revenants charged her knocking her back onto the double bed with their mass. She could smell the grave on her father as he climbed on top of her. There wasn’t enough room for her to swing the knife. In desperation, she moved the blade between them. She turned the tip downwards, towards her own chest and plunged it in. She didn’t want her father to get his revenge, he should suffer. She smiled as the pain flooded her. She felt herself getting weak and with a last act of defiance, spit blood into her father’s face before succumbing to her wound.

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Ep.87 – Summer Slaycation! - What's on the Other Side of the Lake?!

Episode Notes

Something is going on on the other side of the lake from camp, and whatever it is it seems to be hungry for children...

Summer Slaycation by David O'Hanlon

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Ep.86 – Catalyst - A KILLER is Born!

Episode Notes

The so called "Angel of Death" has been killing lots of criminals in Strickfield, but how did she start and who can possibly catch her?!

Catalyst by Rob Fields

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Transcript:

Drake Kazmierczak had been on the road for a few hours. He had packed up and left his job as a detective at the Erie City Police Department. He was on his way to Strickfield to take an opening for a detective within their police department. Although Drake’s uncle, Jeffrey, was the chief of police, he didn’t actually take the job to be closer to his uncle – and Drake was very close to Uncle Jeffrey. No, he had a pretty good idea that a certain Angel of Death was currently residing in Strickfield; his months of research had told him that it was a good eighty-seven percent certainty. Drake tightened his grip on the steering wheel as he wondered how many guilty people the Angel of Death had taken. He knew it was many hundreds! It angered Drake every time the Angel of Death made the news. However, it never really got to him until the day he picked up a copy of the North Ridgeway Press and read about how the Angel of Death had claimed Annie Judge. Drake had known that Annie Judge was not a perfect woman by any stretch, but Annie was the love of his life. The two of them had shared so much in the many years that they were together. He came to know that Annie was carefree and uninhibited, qualities that he loved about her. However, when Drake had accepted his badge, he had accepted the law. It was this, along with what he had discovered about Annie’s darker tastes that would permanently drive a wedge between the two of them. And then he recalled the events that he had read about in the newspaper . . .   

Four Years Ago

Raigen Devereux walked into North Ridgeway High School. She walked into first period and took her usual seat. “Hey, Raige, you gonna show us your tits after we win the game tonight?” Jagger Nelson called out to her. Raigen turned to see the sneers of Jagger and the other football players. She responded by raising her middle finger. “You can’t even catch a football, Jagger. What makes you think you can handle my tits?” The other girls in the class cheered for this witty cheerleader. Just then, Raigen turned and gave her full attention to Annie Judge as she entered the classroom. She had been teaching many of the A.P. math subjects for the last several years. She almost always wore the same outfits: a blouse, a long skirt or pants, and loafers. Her face was a perfect oval with long blond hair and blue eyes. She always wore blush and matching lipstick. It was easy to see why guys appreciated her, even at thirty-six years old. Raigen came to know that she made damn good money, not referring to just her teacher’s salary. Raigen knew that Annie had a second life as a self-employed prostitute and drug pusher. But she didn’t go to other cities to sell her body. No, she sold her body to students at North Ridgeway High School, ones who could afford to pay her prices for fucking them, or students she desired to prey upon – legal age or not. Raigen came to know this information for two reasons. One, Miss Judge lived two blocks down the street from Raigen. Two, a month ago, Raigen saw a police car parked in Annie’s driveway, flashers on. Raigen couldn’t listen to the conversation, but her mother was a detective on the police force and was there that night. Raigen’s mother usually told her about what was going on in the privacy of their home, because she knew her daughter always kept her mouth shut. Raigen learned about the anonymous tip about the drug activity that was taking place at Annie Judge’s house. Nothing was found, however, in spite of the search warrant. It seemed that Annie Judge was always steps ahead of the police. Two weeks later, Raigen was out walking and had seen a police car at Annie Judge’s house again. Again, Raigen’s mother was on the scene. Raigen would later learn that Michelle Bailey, at fellow student at her high school, had recently gone missing. After Raigen’s mother had questioned several students, a few of them said Miss Judge__ was the last one to talk to her. In fact, the two of them seemed to be really close by the end of the last school year. It was then Raigen’s mother had told her that Michelle’s parents had filed a missing person’s report that Annie Judge would become Raigen’s top priority. Raigen’s mother had told her about the last night that Michelle Bailey was seen. It was at Skate World where Raigen’s mother had been told Michelle was picked up by a woman matching Annie Judge’s description, in a green Ford Fusion. Raigen knew that Miss Judge had such a car. Since Raigen had access to her mother’s computer, she was able to look into Annie Judge’s record, but she found no priors. Raigen knew that the police couldn’t keep detail on Miss Judge, because who was to say that she might not file a harassment lawsuit against them. No, Raigen would have to take matters into her own hands. This was a job for the Angel of Death! 

The next afternoon, Annie Judge opened her front door to a nice surprise. “Raigen Devereux? What brings you to my home?” Raigen faked a smile and held up a printout. “This is my school schedule. You’re going to be my math teacher again – Calculus. I wanted to ask you some questions about the class, but I obviously came at a bad time.” Annie wore a white bikini that left very little to the imagination. She didn’t have a pool out back but looked a little wet from both sweat and suntan lotion. Raigen wore a blue tank-top with thin shoulder straps, white short shorts with a leather belt, and sandals. Raigen expected Annie to just politely dismiss her, but she stepped aside and motioned for her to come in. After closing the door, she turned to Raigen. “What can I help you with?” Raigen reached into her purse and came up with a second printout and a calculator. “It says here that you’re requiring a mathematical calculator. Are you sure this calculator won’t be okay for Calculus?” As Annie took her calculator, Raigen noticed that she was checking her out – especially her endowed upper body. Then she pointed to the sheet. “These are graphing calculators. Yours is a scientific calculator. In Calculus, you’re required to present graphs to show your work.” “Okay, I’ll go to Office Depot and buy one.” As Annie handed Raigen back her calculator, she took hold of her left hand and held it. She finished by folding Raigen’s fingers over the calculator, caressing them as she did. “You’re a very bright student, Raigen.” She gestured to the kitchen. “Can I offer you something to drink?” “Sure,” Raigen replied. “Ice water, please.” Annie led Raigen to the kitchen, which had many top-of-the-line appliances. “I was about have some iced tea,” she said. “Well, I’d hate to impose . . .” “It’s not imposing if I’m offering.” “Okay.” Annie pulled two glasses out of her cupboard. She opened the refrigerator and bent down to retrieve the iced tea, making sure Raigen saw her almost-naked rear. She stood up straight and closed the refrigerator. Annie poured the tea and handed Raigen a glass. Raigen waited until Annie drank first, which she did. Raigen tasted the sweetened black tea with a hint of lemon. Annie motioned for Raigen to come into the living room. They sat down on the couch. Raigen drank her tea. “You have a really nice house, Miss Judge. You also have a very nice tan.” Annie stood up. “I want show you something.” Raigen put her glass down, got up, and followed Annie into the hallway. When they stopped, Annie gestured to an open doorway. Raigen looked inside to see a tanning bed. “I can tan all I want, and it pays for itself.” Annie took Raigen’s hand. “Come on.” Raigen was given a tour of the house. The more she saw, the more she knew that there was no way Annie could afford everything on her teacher’s salary alone. Raigen’s mother made better money as a detective, but even she didn’t have these luxuries. Still holding Raigen’s hand, Annie led her to the bedroom at the end of the hall. Thanks to Raigen’s highly photographic memory, she now knew every room and the objects in them. As Raigen examined the bedroom, Annie gently turned her against the wall and kissed her. Raigen’s plan to investigate Annie hadn’t included this! She would have to indulge Annie as much as possible until she could determine her connection to Michelle Bailey’s disappearance. As they kissed, Raigen let Annie undress her. Annie truly admired Raigen’s naked form, especially her upper body. “I imagine only a select few have seen these.” Raigen acted giddy. “Wow, Miss Judge, I never knew you liked girls.” She bit on her lower lip a little. “What now?” Annie eased Raigen onto the bed and then removed her own bikini. Raigen realized that Annie truly meant to have sex with her and knew she could not let that happen. Annie came onto the bed with her. Raigen let Annie kiss her again as she fondled her large breasts. Suddenly, something was beeping. Annie immediately stopped kissing Raigen and got off her. “You stay right here.” Annie went to her purse that was sitting on the dresser and removed her smartphone. Raigen saw her type in her password. Now she was texting someone. When she was finished, she locked her phone and put it down. She slithered back onto the bed, got on top of Raigen, and began kissing her again. As Annie was about to touch Raigen’s sex, she quickly turned away. “Raigen, what’s wrong?” Raigen acted afraid. “I’ve never been with a woman before.” Annie turned Raigen onto her back again. “You kiss just fine.” “I do like that. But . . . I don’t think I’m ready to go all the way yet.” Just then, the doorbell rang. Annie groaned. “Jesus Christ!” She got off the bed. “I’m expecting a delivery.” Annie went and put on a robe and flip-flops. She pointed at Raigen as she was walking out. “Don’t you move.” Annie left the bedroom but didn’t take her smartphone. Raigen got off the bed and snatched it. After entering Annie’s password, she went into the text messages. Jagger Nelson’s number was here, the jock who had commented on Raigen’s breasts earlier that morning. Actually, Annie was just texting with him. Jagger said he had taken care of their little problem and that it was buried away. Then Raigen saw the names of other North Ridgeway High students. But only one got Raigen’s undivided attention. Michelle Bailey! Raigen read through that conversation and knew that she had hit gold! The exchange was about how Michelle had evidence and would expose everything, unless Annie agreed to honor their bargain. Annie told Michelle to come over. Raigen saw that Michelle and Annie had had plenty of other exchanges. The last one was just around the time that Detective Devereux had said that the Baileys reported Michelle not coming home on that first night. When Raigen heard Annie finishing up with the delivery man, she quickly wiped her fingerprints from the smartphone and replaced it exactly the way it was before. She quickly drew back the covers and got into bed. Annie entered the room and smiled. “Well, look at you.” “Is everything okay?” Raigen asked innocently. “Fine . . . Just fine.” Annie’s smartphone went off again. She spun around and snatched it up. After reading the text, she was annoyed. “Raigen, honey, I need to take off for a little bit. You can stay in bed until I get back.” Raigen feigned a yawn. “I guess I’ll keep it warm for us.” She turned and faked falling asleep. She heard Annie moving into her walk-in closet and getting dressed. Before she left the room, she lowered herself and kissed Raigen’s cheek. Raigen waited until Annie was gone before she got out of bed to investigate. Annie had taken both her purse and her smartphone. Raigen got dressed and found her own purse. She pulled out a pair of plastic gloves and put them on to begin her investigation. After coming up with nothing, Raigen remembered that Annie was smart enough to outmaneuver the police. Then she remembered there was one door near the hallway Annie hadn’t shown her. She went to it and saw that it was locked – with a deadbolt. Raigen dug her lock-picking tools out of her purse and returned to the door. It took her under a minute to pick the deadbolt. She turned on the light and went down into the basement, taking a chance on the possibility of cameras. Raigen looked around and saw it was an ordinary live-in basement. She didn’t detect any cameras. She examined the laundry room in a far corner, and then the pantry. Nothing special. She looked around the main room. Just a couple of couches and an HDTV with a nice surround sound setup. It struck Raigen odd that there were no movies on any of the shelves, just math books. What had the police missed when they searched this house? Then Raigen understood . . . Nothing had been disturbed in most of the rooms, nor down in the basement. Raigen was sure that Annie let the police go through every room in the house. But they didn’t look hard enough!  Raigen took a math book off the closest shelf and opened it. Nothing! She opened a second one. Still nothing! She opened a third . . . Paydirt! Inside the hollowed-out opening were little Zip-Lock baggies of pure pharmaceutical grade ecstasy. She closed the book and put it back, along with the other two. She opened another book to find more little drug baggies – mollies. When she closed the book, she saw that the two drug books were geometry books. She opened another geometry book to find amphetamines. She put the book back. But what was the connection to Michelle Bailey? Raigen did more investigating. And then she found a Scooby-Doo clue along the wall in between the two corner rooms, a dusty footprint – half of one. Raigen put her hands on the sides of the full-length picture and pulled. The right side gave way. She opened the picture to reveal a room that was right out of Fifty Shades of Grey. She entered and saw the many sexual aids, the king-sized bed, and the physical medium that lined almost every shelf. On the spines of the discs were names – including Michelle Bailey. She took the case and opened it to reveal the disc inside. She took the disc and put the case away. Then Raigen discovered the backpack in the corner and looked inside to find a couple of schoolbooks, which belonged to Michelle Bailey. Next to the backpack was Michelle’s purse containing critical evidence: her wallet with her student ID . . . and her smartphone! Raigen knew that Miss Judge would be back at any time. She would have to get home and examine her acquisitions – stat! She returned everything as it was left and went back upstairs. After relocking the deadbolt, she left Annie a note saying that something came up and would make it up to her later. Raigen made it home and went to her bedroom. She turned on her TV and disc player. She put the disc inside and played it to see a homemade porno of Annie, Jagger Nelson, and Michelle Bailey. Raigen knew that Michelle Bailey didn’t even have her driver’s license yet. And these two were both having full-blown sex with this young girl. Raigen turned Michelle’s smartphone on, quickly hacked the login screen, and went right to the text messages app. Again, some interesting names – just like on Annie’s smartphone. Miss Judge and Jagger Nelson were both contacts. The conversations she read were quite intense. At one point, she was really into their sex that was on the disc. As she read more, Michelle mentioned that she was pregnant. Raigen looked at the thread with Miss Judge. Michelle asked for more of her special stuff. Some of the words here were misspelled badly; Raigen determined that Michelle had become a drug addict. She got her confirmation when one of the text bubbles asked what Annie had shot her up with. Suddenly, Raigen heard screaming and looked back to the screen to see a different video of Jagger just abusing Michelle as Annie edged him on. She fast-forwarded the video and kept her eyes open for anything unusual. Ultimately, Michelle hadn’t been killed in any of the videos, but she had been sexually abused time and again. At the ends of the latter scenes, Jagger had injected Michelle with what was probably pure heroin. Raigen now knew that Annie preyed on her students – underage or not. When a student would likely need help in one or more of her math classes, Annie would offer to tutor the student herself at her own house, which was not against school rules. The study sessions probably started off innocently enough. Then she would make her move on the student, much like she did with Raigen. The students that succumbed to her charms would eventually end up on those discs down in that secret room. In the case of Michelle Bailey, she was an easy lure into Annie’s web. She found herself sharing in drugs, then sex not long after. Michelle became hooked on heroin and needed Annie to keep providing it. The price was her body, which both Annie and Jagger had abused time and again. Michelle became pregnant as a result of Jagger. Michelle attempted to blackmail either one or both of them, but she would discover that she was in way over her head. Raigen needed confirmation and knew exactly how to get it!

Raigen was sitting on Annie’s steps to her side garage entrance when she pulled in. The garage door came down as soon as the car stopped. Annie got out of the car. “How did you end up in my garage, Raigen?” Raigen pointed to the back doorway. “Unlocked.” Annie unlocked the side door and opened it. When they were in, Annie closed the door and put her purse down. She snatched Raigen into her arms and gave her a long, lustful kiss. When it was finished, Raigen stepped back to catch her breath. “You left me before, you naughty girl,” Annie purred. Raigen pecked her lips. “Do you have any more of that iced tea? I’d like some before we fuck.” Annie laughed a little and walked to the refrigerator to get the pitcher of iced tea. She filled two glasses and handed Raigen one. “I can’t stop thinking about you, Miss Judge,” Raigen said, in a lustful tone. “I’ll teach you so much, honey.” Annie drank her tea. Raigen took a little bit of iced tea into her mouth. When Annie had finished hers, Raigen spit the tea in her mouth back into the glass and put it down. “Aren’t you going to . . . to drink your . . .” Annie slumped to the floor and was sleeping peacefully. 

Annie stirred. “Wha . . . wha . . . What the fuck?!” She began to struggle. “Now is that any language for a school teacher, Miss Judge? Or should I simply call you Annie?” Annie stopped struggling. “Raigen?! What are you doing? I can’t see anything! Untie me!” Raigen turned on the lights. “What the fuck? This is – !” “That’s right, Annie. I found your little playroom. Nice thing about it: no windows – and soundproof.” Annie was bound to the bed with bungee cords. Raigen held up a soda can. “Oh, I hope you don’t mind since I drugged the iced tea.” After Raigen finished the soda, she slithered onto the bed and looked down into Annie’s face. “That’s quite a collection of homemade porn – with many underage students.” She raised a hand to her ear. “You hear that? That’s you and Stephanie Drabick out there on your TV.” She put her hand down. “Stephanie was a straight-A student. Eventually, she went wrong. The day she was expelled, she was coked out of her gourd.” Annie struggled to free herself again. “Your mother put you up to this! You knew she was over here – snooping around!” Raigen held up a copy of the local newspaper. “According to the Press, Michelle Bailey was reported missing. In other words, public knowledge. Mama doesn’t even know I’m here.” I leaned in. “Or what I’m about to do.” Annie stopped struggling and yelled, “Untie me, you little shit!” Raigen gave her an evil look, which made Annie gasp. “I’m hardly little. In fact, you’re about to satisfy my bloodlust.” She slithered back off the bed. “You’ve ruined many innocent students in our high school. Seeing all those discs, you’ve been doing it for years. And for what? To satisfy your insatiable appetite for sex?” Raigen moved to her table and picked up some photos. “I’ve been quite busy today, learning about what happened to Michelle Bailey.” Raigen turned the first photograph around and showed it to Annie, then another. “She was burned alive and buried in a forest outside North Ridgeway. You orchestrated the whole thing.” Annie was horrified. “How did you find out . . . ?” “Where Michelle was buried? I didn’t know. That’s why I needed help.” Raigen raised her eyelid. “Since you enjoy having threesomes in your movies, how about we have a threesome? Oh, I have to change the disc. Be right back!” Raigen left the room and returned a few minutes later, with Jagger Nelson secured to a wheelchair. He was just in his boxer shorts. Annie gasped in horror. “What did you do to Jagger?!” “Oh, you mean the cuts across his chest?” Raigen answered. “I tortured him until he told me everything. Jagger was your pawn in exchange for sex, drugs, and good grades. Guess that explains why he can’t play football for shit. Oh, and that disc you’re hearing now is the one with you, Jagger, and Michelle.” I raised my finger. “I know Jagger got Michelle pregnant.” Annie fired back, “She tried to blackmail me for money because she was pregnant!” “And you orchestrated her death; Jagger’s too drugged out and stupid to make plans like that.” I clasped my hands together. “Your days of being a sexual predator are over, Annie!” Annie gave Raigen a mocking look. “Oh, you going to call Mommy about Jagger and me? Go ahead! I’ll tell Mommy how sexy her little baby girl looks in her birthday suit. I’ll tell Mommy how nice and meaty your big, round tits felt in my hands. I’ll tell Mommy that you slept with your math teacher!” “Weren’t you listening, Annie? Mama will never know about tonight.” Raigen turned to her table and lit a candle. She picked up a spoon and a heroin packet. After mixing up the heroin, she prepared a syringe. “Okay, Jagger, let’s see how many of these it will take before you overdose. Jagger Nelson . . . let the punishment fit the crime!” Jagger struggled as Raigen attempted to tie a giant rubber band to his arm. She elbowed him in the face, dazing him. When Raigen finished preparing his arm, she administered the injection. Jagger was high in no time. Raigen turned to Annie. “What you’re getting will be much worse.” Annie yelled and protested as Raigen prepared a second heroin syringe. As soon as it was ready, she administered it to Jagger. “There you go.” Jagger’s head slumped back; he would never move again. Raigen turned and picked up a gasoline can. She opened it and soaked Annie with the gasoline. “Don’t do this, Raigen! Please! I am begging you!” Raigen pointed outside. “You hear that? That’s one of the scenes where Michelle begged you and Jagger to stop as you both sexually abused her again and again. Neither of you gave a fuck.” Raigen dropped the empty gas can. “Then Jagger doped her up. Here’s a mathematics question for you. What is the probability that one of your students might be a serial killer?” Annie finally opened her eyes after shaking the gas away from them. Then she looked at Raigen. “You are not a serial killer! You’re much too young!” Raigen took a ball gag from her table and secured it to her mouth. “I’m nineteen, Annie. I’ve been killing people since I was eight. It all started when a third-grade bully kept picking on smaller children on the playground at my elementary school. One day, he went too far and fatally stabbed another kid with a pocketknife. He needed to be punished. Getting a knife from the school kitchen was easy enough. Stabbing him once in the stomach during lunch period got the job done. No one even looked my way.” Raigen picked up a box of matches. She took one out and lit it. “Annie Judge . . . let the punishment fit the crime!” Annie gasped when she saw Raigen’s evil face. “Oh, God! It’s you?! You’re the Angel of Death?!” Her speech was muffled, but Raigen understood her completely. Raigen tossed the match at Annie. Her body was engulfed by fire almost immediately. Her screams were still muffled. Raigen stepped out of the room and watched her thrash wildly as she burned. Soon she stopped moving forever. Raigen got undressed and threw her clothes into the fire. Raigen picked up a fire extinguisher and put the fire out. She didn’t want the evidence to burn up when the police would find the bodies. Raigen had been wearing plastic gloves when performing the murders. She had all of the books containing the drugs neatly stacked on the couches. The discs and the pictures would also be found. Raigen used Annie’s lavish shower and cleaned herself good. From there, she dressed in her cheerleading outfit. She gathered her usual evidence of her being at the scene and took it with her. She would make her anonymous phone call to the North Ridgeway Police Department in a few days. In the meantime, she would dispose of her evidence and then be at North Ridgeway High School in time to cheerlead for the home football game.

Drake groaned as he realized he was now entering the village of Strickfield. He was still grief-stricken at what had happened to Annie Judge. Why, Annie? Where did you go wrong? Why couldn’t we have been happy? Then he focused on the Angel of Death. You had no right! NO RIGHT!! I know you’re here – in Strickfield! One way or another . . . I WILL FIND YOU AND PUT YOU AWAY!! That’s a fucking PROMISE!! Drake finally pulled in at the Strickfield Police Department and got out. He went inside to find his uncle waiting for him. “Drake . . . I was wondering when you’d finally roll in.” Drake smiled. “Uncle Jeffrey! Yeah, I just got here.” The two of them shared a brief hug. Then Jeffrey took Drake to his office and told him to have a seat. “You settled here in Strickfield yet?” Jeffrey asked. “I will. My apartment’s ready,” Drake confirmed. “I just have to get used to living here. My apartment’s near Strickfield University.” Jeffrey nodded. “You going to be okay with taking this job?” “You bet I am!” Drake declared. “I’m going to find the Angel of Death – and expose him!” Jeffrey sighed. “Drake . . . just one word of advice regarding the Angel of Death. Nobody, I mean nobody, talks about the Angel of Death here. We just don’t. Plain and simple. Now don’t go sticking your nose where it don’t belong. I offered you my open detective position because of your outstanding record when you worked in Erie City. You’re one of the two best detectives I know. Don’t make me regret bringing you on here.” Drake was irate. “Uncle Jeffrey, don’t you understand? The Angel of Death is a murderer! He’s literally taking the law into his own hands when he kills all these people.” Uncle Jeffrey shook his head. “Not people, Drake . . . criminals! Ones that the courts won’t touch. The Angel of Death is doing what we who are sworn to uphold the law can’t do.” Before Drake could further protest, Jeffrey raised his hand. “I don’t want to discuss the Angel of Death any further. Like I said, we simply do not talk about the Angel of Death here. That means you don’t either.” Just then, there was a knocking at the door. Chief Kazmierczak motioned for the girl to come in. “You sent for me, Chief?” the girl asked. “Drake, I would like you to meet Raige Devereux. She’s our college intern that I was telling you about. She’s also the other best detective that I know. Damn sharp mind on this one, much like you. She’s helped us solve all our toughest cases.” Then he looked her way, “Raige, this is my nephew, Detective Drake Kazmierczak. I’m going to stick you with him and let him shadow you from now on. I think the two of you will work very well together.” Drake barely heard a word of what Uncle Jeffrey had said to him. Once he had gazed upon this very beautiful angel, he was glad that he had come to Strickfield after all. 

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Ep.85 – Taco Tuesday - How HUNGRY Are You?!

Episode Notes

Who's hungry?! What could be less threatening than a taco? They're crunchy and delicious... and they certainly won't destroy your body and consume your soul or anything...

Taco Tuesday by Keith Tomlin

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Music by Ray Mattis http://raymattispresents.bandcamp.com

Produced by Daniel Wilder

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Transcript:

My god, what is happening to me?  I’m trapped in my own body.  I can feel myself moving, walking around but I am not in control.  Sometimes, if I concentrate hard enough, I can see out of my eyes but that is becoming harder and harder to do.  I occasionally hear bits and pieces of muffled conversation but, as time goes by, that too is fading away. All I know is that I am slowly losing my mind.  I don’t think I’m going crazy but my memories are fading away, losing all of the details that make up my life.  I mean, I know my name is John Davidson and that I was born in Ohio but I can’t quite remember what city.  I know it started with an ’S’.  Sandusky?  Springfield?  I just can’t remember.  My childhood is gone along with most of my high school and college days.  I know that I currently live in Columbus, Ohio but the rest of my life is like looking into a foggy darkness.  The only memories that are clear are the events that happened the last few days.  I’m afraid that if I don’t keep at least that much fresh in my mind, there will be nothing left of me. I think it began a few days ago.  It was morning and I was standing in line at the coffee shop in the building in which I work.  I was still rubbing the sleep from my eyes when I heard a cheerful voice behind me. “Do you know the best thing about Tuesday mornings?  It’s not Monday!” I turned to see a man in this 30’s, dressed in a nice suit, grinning broadly.  I didn’t recognize him but I figured he must be new here.  It’s an unspoken rule that you never talk to others in line, especially this early in the morning.  Regulars to the coffee shop know this and everyone follows this tradition. “Yeah, huh.  I know,”  I said.  Not my most eloquent statement but it was early and I was trying to walk that fine line between being polite and trying to discourage him from further conversation. I turned and faced forward, hoping this would signal my unwillingness to converse but I wasn’t surprised when he continued talking. “It should be a great day, super-duper!  It’s supposed to hit 75 degrees with no chance of rain,” said the jovial voice behind me. I rolled my eyes, not turning around to look at him but giving a noncommittal nod and a low grunt. He continued, “I can’t believe that we’ll be stuck in an office on a day like this.” I made sure not to move a muscle, I didn’t want to send any hint of encouragement. “Say, pal,” he said, “you look like a man that enjoys a good taco.” Ok, I admit, this piqued my interest.  It was an odd thing to say to a stranger during the morning coffee rush.  It wasn’t just the words he said, it was also how he said it.  His voice had taken on an authoritative air and I had turned to face him without realizing that I had done so.  His eyes locked with mine and I could not look away. “Last night,” he stated, “I ate at this Mexican place that was out of this world.”  He sighed, a blissful look momentarily passing over his face before he continued.  “It’s a bit out of the way but, friend, it is worth the drive. Get the tacos.  Trust me, it will change.  Your.  Life.”  He pulled out a business card and handed it to me.  “Here’s the address, check it out.  You don’t want to live to regret it.” I took the card like a man in a daze.  I mumbled something and turned to face forward and realized that no one was between me and the counter.  The barista was asking if I was ready to order and, from the tone of this voice, this wasn’t the first time he asked.  I hurried to the counter and placed my usual order.  While waiting on my coffee, I took a look behind me and found that the man was gone.  I began to doubt that he was ever there until I felt the outline of a business card in my shirt pocket. The rest of the morning blurred by as usual.  I had the same worthless meetings, the same meaningless tasks. I nodded when I was expected to nod and shook my head when I was expected to shake my head.  I had thought that working at an advertising agency would be glamorous, that I would come up with clever ad campaigns, pitch ideas to grateful clients, and sit in on photoshoots with beautiful models.  Instead, I’m the guy that makes the visual aids to use in other people’s presentations.  If the client likes it, it’s because the account executive had an amazing idea.  If the client hates it, it’s because I screwed up the layout.  Oh well, it’s not all bad, one time I got to pick out the font. It wasn’t until lunchtime that I thought about that strange man again.  I had only a few minutes to grab lunch and I ran down to a burger joint on the corner.  As I bit into my sandwich, I realized that it tasted like cardboard.  The fries tasted the same way.  All I could think of was tacos and the thought of anything else sickened me.  I ended up throwing the hamburger and fries in the garbage and walking back to work, stomach growing. The rest of the day, I could think of nothing except tacos; seasoned ground beef, topped with lettuce and cheese in a toasted shell.  My distraction showed and I was asked several times if I was ok, once by someone who actually seemed concerned.  I assured everyone I was fine and I somehow stumbled my way through the rest of the workday.  At 5:00 pm, I left work and immediately drove to my favorite Mexican restaurant.  As I parked the car, I realized that the thought of the tacos from this place turned my stomach.  I sat in my car confused, my stomach growled, demanding food, but the thought of eating here made me retch.  I finally remembered the business card in my pocket.  I grabbed it, ripping my shirt in the process, and looked at the address printed on the card.  I threw the car in gear and sped out of the parking lot. I drove out of town and, after a 35-minute drive, I pulled into a parking lot in front of the restaurant listed on the card.  This strange building looked out of place, a one story structure made out of heavy gauge steel sheets, glowing with neon light.  It looked a strange sight, this neon monstrosity sitting at the edge of an empty field in the middle of nowhere.  My stomach ached, huger pains shooting up into my chest.  I quickly shut the car off and scurried inside.  I don’t remember much about the inside of the place.  I recall there was a strange-looking man, small and lanky, who lead me to a seat at a rough wooden table.  He slipped away without saying a word.  I also seem to recall other people, some writhing on the floor, but I can’t be sure that was real, everything seemed like a dream.  After a minute, or maybe an hour, the small man returned, bearing a plate full of tacos.  He placed the plate in front of me, nodded, and disappeared again.  Well, to be honest, he could have been standing next to me the whole time, I only had eyes for the tacos.  I quickly grabbed a taco and brought it up to my nose, taking a deep breath.  For a second, I thought I smelled rancid meat, mildew, and rot but that was quickly replaced by the tantalizing scent of taco meat so fast that I doubted I even smelled it in the first place.  Hands shaking with anticipation, I took my first bite. Pure ecstasy.  My god, every nerve ending in my body seemed to explode with pleasure.  I was shivering so badly that I could barely hang onto the taco.  I could feel every inch of my body pulse with orgasmic delight.  I took a second bite and the feeling increased tenfold.  I could feel every hair follicle standing on end, each one so sensitive that any movement would send shivers of pleasure coursing throughout my entire body. I was so erect that I ached, my penis straining against my underwear so hard that I thought it would burst out of my pants.  Every breath I took stoked the fires of my pleasure; each movement sent waves of shivers down my spine.  I climaxed over and over and over again.  I slid down the chair, ending up on the floor.  I have no idea how long I laid there, twitching with the slightest breeze, sated and sore.  I eventually struggled to my feet and stumbled out of the restaurant but I have no recollection of driving home. Next thing I know, my alarm is going off.  5:45 am.  I am still spent, every inch of my body aching.  The thought of moving sickened me, but after trying three times, I finally make it out of bed.  It never crossed my mind to call in sick, I was operating solely on autopilot.  I brushed my teeth, showered, shaved, dressed, and drove off to the office, all done in a daze, each movement born of repeated gestures I did thousands of times before. I didn’t snap out of it until I was standing in line at the ground floor coffee shop.  A coworker tapped me on the shoulder. “Damn, John, you look like shit.  Late night?” the man said.  It took me a moment to come up with a name for that face…  Steve, no, Stevens, Chad Stevens, from Accounting. “Yeah, not feeling the best, Maybe food poisoning…” I mumbled.  As soon as I said poison, it was like flipping a switch.  My stomach started to rebel and my bowels turned to water. I ran out of the coffee shop and stormed into the men’s room.  I dove into a stall, barely making it before I painted the back wall with what little was left in my stomach.  I quickly pulled down my pants and emptied my bowels violently.  My whole body broke out in a sweat, my suit sticking to my skin.  After several rotating rounds of puking and shitting, I finally felt a cold numbness come over my body.  I cleaned myself up as best I could and limped out of the restroom.  On the way out of the building, I vaguely remember a few people gasping when they saw me but I ignored everything except moving my foot to take the next step. Just like the night before, I didn’t remember the drive home.  My next clear memory was sitting on my bathroom floor, head hanging over my toilet, my body naked and covered in sweat.  I had no idea what time it was or how long I have been there.  All I knew is that I kept vomiting over and over, an endless heaving into the porcelain bowl.  There was nothing in my stomach to bring up but I kept retching.  My stomach was on fire, burning pain shooting up my torso.  I began puking up blood, first just a tinge of red in the bile that I was bringing up.  That tinge quickly turned into a crimson flood as I felt things inside me begin to tear.  The blood soon became chunky with bits of tissue as my body began to purge itself of its internal organs.  The chunks became larger and I struggled to pass bigger and bigger pieces.  The heaving became a torrent as my muscles locked up and I became a gruesome parody of a fountain statue that gushed blood and guts instead of water.  Time lost all meaning as I sat there frozen, watching my life’s blood spill out all over the bathroom floor.  Finally, after an eternity, the muscles let loose and I collapsed.  The searing pain had been replaced by a dull ache.  I lay there on the edge of unconsciousness until I felt a new pain, this time in my bowels.  Blood began to pour out of my ass as the whole process began again, this time from a different orifice.  I tried to scream but could only manage to weep. Sometime later, I woke up.  I didn’t remember passing out but I must have been unconscious for quite a while.  The floor of the bathroom was a puddle of congealing blood and bits of flesh, already starting to crust over.  The buzzing of a dozen flies filled the air as I opened my eyes.  It took a second to realize that the pain was gone, replaced by an emptiness, a coldness, a dark void.  It was a very peculiar feeling, I could tell my body was freezing and I should be shivering with cold but I felt no discomfort.  The side of my head was stuck to the white tile floor and I had to struggle to peel my cheek from the carnage that trapped it.  This was repeated for every part of my body that was submerged in the mess and left me panting and weak.  My arms and legs shook with effort as I crawled to the bathtub and flopped over the edge of it.  Using the last of my energy, I turned on the faucet and flipped up the plunger to engage the shower.  I remember watching the water start to fall on my face as I blacked out once again. My next conscious memory was standing in front of my dresser mirror, adjusting a blue and white striped tie.  Shocked, I looked down and realized that I was dressed in my one my nicer suits, my suit jacket neatly folded on the bed.  It was bright, the early morning sun was shinning through the bedroom window.  I started to leave the room but stumbled as I found it very difficult to make my legs move.  It was as if I had to concentrate on every movement, each step feeling as if it were my first ones.  I stumbled past the bathroom and stopped dead, looking at the immaculate floor.  There was no sign of the bloody mess I expelled.  I walked into the bathroom, frantically looking for any sign that it really happened, that I wasn’t going crazy.  Finally, as I tore the room apart, I found a thumbnail sized hunk of flesh stuck to the back side of the shower curtain.  Seeing that, I dropped down on the toilet seat and wept, not knowing if I was glad it wasn’t a dream or overwhelmed because I hoped it was. I sat there for hours, until there were no more tears left.  I stood and moved over to the sink and splashed water on my face.  I wanted to cry again after I realized that I could not feel the temperature of the water.  I could tell it was wet but it could have been scolding hot or freezing cold, the temperature didn’t register on my skin.  I pinched the back of my hand and felt nothing.  Well, not exactly nothing, I could feel pressure, I knew that my fingernail was pressing hard into my skin but there was no pain, only numbness. I had to find out what happened to me and the only place I could think of to start was the taco restaurant.  As I walked through the house and out to the car, I began to relearn how to control my muscles, my legs started to lose their jerky motion as I continued to use them.  It took a few minutes of driving before I was able to lightly press the gas or brake pedal instead of jamming each one to the floor.  Jumping on the highway, I drove out of town, heading to the country, towards the restaurant.  I realized that thinking about those tacos did nothing for me, in fact, food in general held no interest, even though I would guess it’s been over a day since I ate.  I was not hungry, I was just… empty. After a half an hour or so, I pulled into the driveway of the restaurant, or at least where the restaurant had been.  Looking around now, all I saw was an old, dilapidated barn next to a corn field that stretched as far as the eye could see.  There was no doubt in my mind that this was the spot and yet, how could it be?  I got out of the car and wandered around the lot, looking for any sign of the restaurant.  The barn was filled with old farm equipment, rusty and tangled in weeds.  I made my way though the ancient junk to a rickety wooden ladder that led up to a hay loft.  Leaning out an opening in the loft, I gazed at acres and acres of cornfields.  I was about to turn away when I noticed a clearing in the field behind the barn.  Straining my eyes, I could make out a series of large circular patches burned into the ground.  It looked familiar, like something I may have seen in a documentary on the sci-fi channel. Excited about finally having something I could investigate, some possible answers to the myriad questions I had, I turned to make my way back down the ladder.  Suddenly, I felt a presence, something lurking behind me.  I spun around before realizing that it wasn’t behind me, it was in me, a shadow on my mind.  This dark entity grew larger and began seizing control of my body.  I tried to fight back but it grew too strong, too fast.  I was ripped from my mind and plunged into a wold of darkness.  Time lost all meaning and I struggled not to go mad.  Hours, maybe days passed and I continued to plunge deeper into darkness.  I used to be able to see out of my eyes if I concentrated but now that has slipped away from me.  I can no longer feel any sensation outside of the void.  All I have left of me is my memories and those too are fading away.  I don’t remember where I was born, where I live, or even what my name is.  My whole life is gone, every memory that makes me what I am is vanishing.  I keep trying to remember whatever I can, to keep it fresh in my mind but each minute I seem to lose more.  The last thing I remember is walking into a barn filled with old farm equipment and that too is fading.  Dear god, I am fading.  I am lost. ———————— Chad Stevens looked at his watch and shook his head with impatience as he looked at the three people in front of him in line at the ground floor coffee shop.  He hated his job, he hated his coworkers, and he hated that, as the newest hire, he had to pick up coffee every morning for everyone in accounting, even though he worked there over three years.  Sighing, he checked his watch again. “Do you know the best thing about Friday morning?  It’s not Monday!” said a voice behind Chad. Chad hung his head and ignored the man behind him. “It looks like a great day, peachy!  It should only reach the high 60’s with a slight chance of rain,” said the voice, sounding too happy for this time of the morning.  “It should be a crime that we’re stuck in the office on a day like this,” he continued. There was something familiar about that voice and Chad turned to see who spoke. “John! Wow, you look a lot better, man,” Chad exclaimed.  “The way you tore out of here on Wednesday, I figured you would be in bed sick for at least a week.  I heard it took the janitorial crew two hours to clean out that bathroom stall.  How are you feeling?” Chad said, looking concerned. “Me, I’m super duper! Never been better!” John said, with a huge grin on his face.  “Say, pal,” he said, leaning close to Chad, “you look like a man that enjoys a good taco.”

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